A Touchy Subject

Today I want to tackle something that has been on my heart and mind for a long time but haven’t really known how to approach it because I know what the response will be from some.

Before I begin please understand I believe evangelism to be the responsibility of every believer. Having said that I don’t believe we are all evangelists. We should all be ready to answer anyone who asks about the hope we possess. The primary way we cause people to ask is to “Set Christ apart as Lord in our hearts” and when we are asked we must answer “with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience” 1 Peter 3:15-16.

With that preface here is my premise:

We have emphasized evangelism at the cost of making disciples.

We have all heard the “great commission” so many times we can recite it verbatim. Or can we? We know the part about “go”. but do we know the whole passage, Matthew 28:18-20, and the context?

Jesus did say go but the last thing He said was not go but wait. That’s right wait. Jesus last words are not recorded in Matthew 28, they are recorded in Acts 1.

“While he (Jesus) was with them (the apostles), he declared, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait there for what my Father promised, which you heard about from me.” Acts 1:4

Why wait? times a wastin! people are going to hell! the devil isn’t waiting!!!

Jesus gives the reason in both Mathew 28 and Acts 1.

Matthew 28:18, Jesus said “all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me”, 20 “and lo, I am with you always.
Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”

Have we so overemphasized evangelism that we have actually hindered the work of evangelism?

One of my favorite authors and preachers A.W. Tozer suggests that may be the case. In his devotional he states:

“The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it.”

When we go out of obligation and of our own strength believing we must “go” we can spread a “degenerate brand of Christianity to pagan lands” which does not fulfill the command of Christ. He never said make converts He said “make disciples” and a disciple who has “set Christ apart as Lord in his heart” will evoke the question, “what is it about you?” and that same person will be able to answer “with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience”.

Again please don’t misunderstand. There may be a place for the person at the mall passing out tracks. however if all of us were setting Christ apart in our hearts and communication with those entrusted to us with courtesy and respect how much more effective would we be making disciples?

I also believe if we are all walking in the fullness of our calling, being who God has called and created us to be, the church would grow. Ephesians 4:15-16 says as much:

When we all grow up in “Christ who is the head from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according the the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Paraphrase: When we are all walking in the fullness of our gifts and calling the church will grow.

A.W. Tozer points out Jesus chilling words in Matthew 23:15:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

Are we living our lives in such a way we can say “follow me as I follow Christ”? I know I could grow in that area. Please pray with me for the church to get a revelation of her primary purpose.


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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, Worship

Are We Asking The Right Questions?

Over the last several months I have been involved in conversations on blogs and forums surrounding all things related to the corporate worship service and the teams of people who facilitate our corporate worship experience.

The conversations are about everything from style, to heart, to practical aspects related to worship in the church. I hear the hearts cry from these leaders and team members and believe the motivation, for the most part, is good. They genuinely want to create an environment where the people of God can come together without distraction and enter into the presence of God with the community of believers they have chosen to identify with.

Today I ran across a conversation entitled “The Ideal Band Member”. I eagerly clicked the link thinking we were going to talk about the type of person we are looking for to be on our worship team. Someone who possesses a servants heart, a lover of God and His word. Someone who will lay down their life for the Bride of Christ, not positioning themselves for something bigger and better but sincerely serving the house. And oh by the way they are skillful. I was disappointed.

The conversation was about instrumentation. “We have two guitars, a bass, a drummer, and two keyboard players what should we be trying to add next?”

Please don’t misunderstand. This is not an invalid or unimportant conversation. If our goal is excellence this is a valid stream however; in the context of the last several months it made me wonder if we are really asking the right questions.

What is our purpose as leaders in the church in general and worship leaders specifically?

I remember receiving an email telling me I would not be asked to be a part of the worship team because the pastor wanted a cohesive group of musicians. And since I was an unknown they were going to choose people who they knew could deliver. I wanted to scream “our purpose is not to build a cohesive group”. Now if my skillset is not at an acceptable level fair enough but if the reason I am not invited is so you can have a “cohesive group” there may be a misunderstanding of our purpose.

Our purpose is first the equipping of the saints, and second to operate in our gifts. This is the order were given in Ephesians 4:12

“the equipping of the saints for works of service”  is first and then;
“the edification of the body”

I have much more to say on that topic but for now I’ll leave it there.

Certainly when we stand on the platform we must be invisible. Actually transparent is a better word and the best way to do that is to be excellent. Not perfect but excellent. Excellence is giving the best you have which is much different than perfection. This is not an either or proposition. We can, and must, accomplish both. It was God’s idea and He can certainly give us the wisdom to accomplish it in our context. But if were not even asking the question we are grossly missing the point.

If we are faithful with the faithfulness entrusted to us God will give the increase and bring the right instruments/musicians or whatever we need at the right time. People are our purpose and we must never lose sight of that priority.

Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders. Acts 20:28
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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, Intimacy W/God, Practical, Worship

I Love The Church

My Pastor, Brady Boyd, made a statement several weeks ago that will stay with me forever. He said:

“those who love the bride will have the opportunity to heal the bride”

He’s absolutely right. There are many people who do not love the Bride who are trying to “fix” her. It wont work. The fix has to come from the inside; from those who love her. It’s no different than any other relationship. Do you listen to just anyone who  gives advice? or do restrict the privilege of speaking into your life to those who know you and love you enough to tell you the truth?

I love the Bride, the Church, the coming together of the saints of God to worship and hear the Word of God proclaimed. I love the fellowship aspect of Church. I love the community aspect of Church. I love every aspect of Church and  I am convinced God does as well.

The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

Psalm 87:2


The gates are where the people gather. I have a picture in my mind of God sitting on His throne on Sunday morning so excited for His people to come together for a single purpose. Psalm 133 says where there is unity God commands a blessing. When we come together for corporate worship it’s one of the few things we do in almost total unity.

So if you, like me, see problems with the Bride is your heart in a place where you can speak the truth in love? Make sure before you start suggesting a “fix”.


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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Worship

Outsourced Worship?

This morning I ran across a case study of the very point I am trying to make regarding the church being increasingly run by the doers rather than equippers.

A Church in Hattiesburg MS. has decided to outsource it’s worship by hiring multiple worship leaders to come in on a rotating basis to lead worship. Here are the advantages he lists:

Jeff says this strategy offers several advantages:

  • Many worship leaders don’t enjoy building teams, managing budgets or organizing departments. They just love to lead worship. This strategy let’s them stay in their sweet spot.
  • This decision saves money for the church. He is able to pay them really well for a weekend and still save enough money in the church budget to use toward another staff position.
  • They love the variety that this brings to their church. Keeping things unpredictable is a plus, says Jeff, to keeping people’s attention.
  • They have learned so much from these worship leaders that they wouldn’t have learned from one person.

LeadingSmart: Outsourced Worship

What I see happening in the church is it is increasingly run by the doers not the equippers (Ephesians 4:11-12).

The very first benefit Jeff lists proves the point. They are looking for a gifted worship leader rather than an equipper to be the pastor/leader. What they need is someone who can recognize, call out, equip, and release the gifting of those entrusted to him or her.

Someone there is doing the administration the difference is they should be raising up worship leaders in their body not from unplanted gifted people who have no real relationship with the congregation.

The best doers are rarely the best equippers. Those who are gifted to lead worship are rarely the best at leading people, teams, and organizations.

We need to make the equippers the pastors and leaders so they can release the doers to do.

The church in America has missed the point a bit. What would your church look like if it were run by equippers and everyone was walking in the fullness of their calling.

Every need in the church can be met in the church. Nowhere in scripture is anything ever outsourced. In acts 6:3 they didn’t go looking for recent graduates from Bible college or Seminary they chose from among them.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Worship

Excellence, Doing what I can do well.

Jeff Miller over at Consuming Worship has an excellent post with video from the opening of the 2007 HIllsong conference. The money quote in my mind is this:

No one person pulled this off. It took the time, talent, and treasure of a multitude. Sure, Hillsong has the resources to throw at it, but that’s just something the rest of us use as an excuse to not take the risk to do something incredible ourselves.

How do I know? I’m guilty too.What happens when even a small group, say a church of 100 or less throws everything they’ve got into risking something for the Kingdom?

Unanimity Unleashed | Consuming Worship

Jeff’s post is entitled “Unanimity Unleashed” and makes a great point, I want to make a different point.

So many times when talking with churches the conversation is around resource or lack thereof. I know you’ve heard this before so don’t tune me out.

Your Father has infinite resources and witholds no good thing from His people. (Psalm 84:11) You have the resources you need to accomplish what has been put in your heart.

The most valuable resource you have are those people who have been entrusted to you. Don’t try to be Hillsong, or New Life, or Willow Creek, or you fill in the blank. Do what you can do well. Be faithful with what’s in your hand. HIllsong has the resources it has because it was faithful with what was in it’s hands from day one. They were faithful with the little things. Most importantly they were faithful with those entrusted to them. Allowing the gifts in the body to grow, express, and flourish.

Make people your aim, use events and resources to serve people don’t use your people to serve events, causes, or needs. As you are faithful with what is in your hands more will be added.

Instead of looking at your various church fund accounts look at the people who have been entrusted to you. Recognize, call out, equip and release the gifting of those entrusted to you into the body and watch what happens.

Ephesians 4:7 says; when Jesus ascended He gave gifts to men and gave them the grace to walk in those gifts. Create an atmosphere where the gifting in the body can flourish. Cast a vision big enough for others vision to come under and grow and contribute.

Go ahead and throw everything you’ve got into risking something for the Kingdom!

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Worship