1. People who have no fruit in the area tjeh
Everywhere I go to minister, even conferences I just go to sit and rest and be fed, I always get asked the same two questions, firstly, how do I get on TV, and secondly, how do I start a church, or sometimes from a pastor who has a church but didn’t start it, how do I start a second church.
The TV question is hard to answer because it was totally supernatural, ai can give advice but not comprehensive advice. But in terms of church planting, on the weekend we open church number 6 in the Tree of Life Family, here are 5 things I would advice any new church planter:
1. Always keep your focus on home base. The invites to travel seem so fun, so easy, and visiting speakers are like the cool Uncle, it can seem much easier than fathering. But if you are church planter, you are called to a father, don’t swap that for cool Uncle. Focus on home. For nearly five years, until Lee and Richard were ready to hold the Fort, I didn’t travel. Even now, you would be amazed how often I fly somewhere Monday, minister and fly home for Saturday to be ready for Dagenham. Especially when a church is young, it needs it’s father around. Even if you have a guest speaker, stay around and listen. Model how to listen to a sermon to your church.
2. Make disciples. That sounds really nebulous, but what it means is to have people copy you and do what you are doing. When you are counting the money, praying in tongues, preparing a sermon, putting chairs out, welcoming new people. Break the task down into steps and teach and model the steps and show people how to do it. The highest level of leadership is to lead people into being leaders, when you show them how to make their own disciples. This is not easy, it takes time. Welcome to church planting.
3. Learn the skill of building culture. Culture is what you celebrate, tolerate and castigate. Of these three, the most important of these is celebration. When someone acts in a 2ay you want the church to be, maybe takes a guest out to lunch after the service, visits one of their house group in hospital, goes and got a job, whatever it is, celebrate it. We always celebrate when someone ministers to the sick so we have a culture of ministering to the sick from everyone in the church. That did not happen by accident.
4. Never ever compare yourself to others. That leads to envy, strife and all evil. Rejoice with those who rejoice. When people are visibly doing better than you, rejoice. When people are visibly doing worse than you, secretly send them money. But you have never been in their shoes, so don’t judge.
5. Don’t copy another ministry. Learn from all of them, of course be humble and tender. But don’t try and operate in another man’s grace! Your value is not in your ability to be a clone, your value is in your uniqueness. People come to Tree of Life because I am not like any other pastor in town!
Rehoboam although related to the wisest man alive at the time decided to reject the advice of his father’s generation and exclusively listened to his peers. The problem was his peers were too rough and hard, and Rehoboam needed to be tempered by the voice of wisdom.
It concerns me to see so many of my generation looking only to their peers, and rejecting the experience and wisdom of my father’s generation. I haven’t done everything right, but I have sought out those who have gone before and asked their counsel.
Recently, one man of God said to me “Ben, I don’t want to influence your decisions”, and I said “I want you to influence my decisions, that makes my decisions better”.
Let me tell you three reasons why you need to listen to your father’s generation.
1. There is nothing new under the sun. Recently, we had to deal with some very strange doctrines in our church, things like universalism and inclusionism. To me they were new doctrines, but to a couple of men in my father’s generation, they had been an issue in the 50s and 80s. They knew how to handle things because life is seasonal. Things repeat. History repeats. Find someone who has loved through more than one generation, and learn from them.
2. The temptation of youth is to be too harsh with people. That’s what attracted Solomon to the counsel of his peers. You don’t realise you win more flies with honey. Just being around seasoned ministers all of them have a gentleness, a humility, a graciousness that you cannot learn. It can only be caught. And I am glad to be infected.
3. Your peers are as foolhardy as you. Get too much of that in the same room and you write every else off as being too old, too jealous, too foolish, too over the hill, not passionate enough. The joy of youth is enthusiasm, the joy of age is wisdom, and both need each other.
We have been spending a lot of time in this series looking at the difference between reigning as a king and ruling as a politician, and we found out that we are called to be kings not politicians, that we are supposed to rule through our birth right and not through the will of the people.
We looked at the paradigm that is being presented by some people today that David has to become Solomon and found that this is just not something you can apply to ministers in the New Covenant, and that without David, Solomon would not be able to have had a time of peace, and that Solomon because of politics made some terrible decisions. We also found out that Moses the politician gave way to Joshua the military leader and that was also succession. And it was the warrior Joshua that finally got the people into the land of milk and honey.
So I want to finish this whole things with a few tips to how you can in your life and in your ministry rule as a king, not a politician. These are simple tips you can put into place in your life and change your whole ministry and increase more and more. Do not listen to those who say you have to become more statesman like to grow, that is not Biblical, and not helpful.
Here are the tips, as promised:
- Remember your authority comes from Jesus – not a committee and not people. You are dancing before an audience of one!
- If someone is not paying you your salary, sharing a bed with you or your mother, then you do not have to listen to their opinion.
- Remember you always have the right to say no, and you never need to justify that word.
- Spend time with people who are being fruitful and are walking above criticism, this is caught more than taught.
- Remember your value is found in where you are different for other people, not where you are the same. Don’t try and fit in when you are designed to stand out.
- Don’t base associations on what other people say, know people by their fruit. If someone is helping you and you can see their fruitfulness, ignore what other people say about them.
- Don’t stop running your race to argue with someone on the sidelines doing nothing. Armchair critics don’t have an opinion worth spending time on.
- Fellowship with Jesus. Keep fellowshipping with Jesus, the more you spend with Him, the more the character, the dignity, the grace and the kindness of His brand of royalty will rub off on you.
10. The people who need to be there the most will not be there. Their excuses will be the most bizarre and pitiful.
9. If the budget is met, about 20% of people in the room will be those who met it. They will be the ones who put in more than the average cost of the conference per person into the offering. Of the others, most could afford to pay – they are bootlegging your conference!
8. The most appreciated “big shot” preacher at the conference will be the one that travelled furthest to be there. Change the geography, change the big shots!
7. People will ignore how well you weave the speakers and topics and ministry together, and come to the conference they invent. The one where they come to the sessions they want when they want.
6. There will be people blessed, inspired, encouraged, challenged, and transformed who will never let you know. They will never write a thank you note or email. This side of eternity there will always be an element of faith to knowing if your conference had an impact. On the other hand, those who want to complain will definitely let you know. Loudly.
5. You will get an unauthorised percussion section. Generally, snuck in tambourines, maybe a wild rain stick might turn up. If you are super blessed, a shofar. The truth is the less sense of rhythm someone has, the more likely they are to unofficially join your band!
4. Some people will come who do not go to local church, they will be the loudest and most needy people in your conference. They will hog and monopolise the time of your guest speakers and try and drain the conference as much as possible. They will have a bag full of any free product but buy nothing. They will rave about the conference. Within two weeks it will be like the conference never happened to them, and you will be to blame (somehow). If you suggest local church to them they will call you a legalist.
3. Some people will be there looking for a handout – either spiritual or physical. They will use guilt to try and get you to pay for their petrol, their hotel room, product. The more blatant will simply just ask for cash. Or they will want special prayer and time with the guest speaker they perceive as most “anointed” because they have problems only that speaker can solve. They will not be in all the sessions, will not have a notepad, and will not ever be serving. They will try and invade the guest speaker’s privacy, even wait until they are in the toilet. You can spot these people as they will stand far far too close to the speaker, and are far more interested in a private word than listening to their spoken public words. It’s all about them having a special mystique about them.
2. Some people want to get close to one of the guest speakers, and because you are the wrapping paper so to speak of the conference, they will just naturally resent you. Some will resent you for spending time with the speakers, others for sharing a message at your own conference because they only want to hear their hero, others because any rules or structure are set by you and these people hate rules and structure. They forget the speaker would never even be in their city or nation without you, and don’t ever expect a thank you from them for the hours, days and weeks of work you have done for this conference to happen.
1. All of the above people need love, care, compassion and kindness. You need firm fences, no doubt, but be sweet, some of these people are confused, lost, sheep without a shepherd and they are part of the reason you are having the conference. Love the lady with the tambourine, love the speaker’s stalker, love the difficult guy who asks why you are speaking at your own conference when there are “anointed” people around, and love the people who put £1 in a conference that cost £40 or £50 a head. Love them all. Be patient, kind, sweet – a good sower sows seed on every kind of ground and expects some sort of return.
When our then Prime Minister Gordon Brown was overheard calling a member of the public asking him questions a “bigoted woman”, he apologized. His apology contained these words:
Sometimes you say things that you don’t mean to say, sometimes you say things by mistake and sometimes when you say things you want to correct it very quickly.
You see what happens with politicians is there is two dialogues going on. The private dialogue and the public dialogue. Gordon Brown thought he was in private, so his private thoughts came out, he thought that woman was a bigot. But – as a politician – as someone who needs to impress the people – his public words could not have said that as it clearly did not impress people.
(I am not picking on one politician or one party here, all of them have a dual dialogue – a private thoughts and a what is released to the public, it’s just in this illustration, the words of Gordon Brown are very clear to this dual thoughts).
Because politicians have to impress people all the time, they hold their cards close to the chest, it is hard to know what they actually think or believe on any topic, because they will not tell you, they will tell you what they think the party line is, what they think the right thing to say is, what they think the key people and the majority think.
This dual process leads to politicians invariably doing three things. Now, again, it’s fine for politicians to be politicians, but when it is people in ministry and church leaders becoming politicians these actions restrict the kingdom of God from manifesting:
- They will warn you away from other people. Jesus never did that. He never warned people about other people, in fact He said if you are not actively against him then you are for him. He said by their fruits you will know them. I have had several times in my life where someone had taken me out for a quiet lunch to warn me away from another minister I know. They will suggest the person’s character is doubtful. I never ever listen to those things. I will not do it. You see, I do what Jesus says, I know people by their fruit. And it’s always the unfruitful that do it, because they don’t realize how important fruit is and don’t respect fruit. I was once warned off a person who ran a Bible College with over a hundred students and told not to go preach there by a person who planned one day to start a Bible College. Which has more fruit? Where is the godly wisdom in that? It’s politics. It’s making sure that you don’t upset one group of people by respecting another. It’s crazy and it is not kingdom minded. Don’t be a gossip, don’t listen to rumour. Don’t follow it, watch for fruit, build your own friends, and enjoy the company of people – especially Christians who are not from your tribe! Don’t be clannish!
As a pastor, I have to deal with this too. Sometimes someone leaves the Tree of Life Church family offended and bitter. I don’t really want our people to hang out with those people, bitterness is infected. I assume our people know better than to hang out with someone bitter at their church, they are too wise to listen to gossip and slander that will make it harder for them to walk in their destiny. But sometimes I am shocked when I hear people I respect in the church are in the ship with people who are attacking me, hating me, trying to wreck our church. But I will not warn people away, because I am not a politician, I am not trying to control the narrative. I am not trying to control your fellowship or friendship. And hanging around the bitter and offended is just a sign of deep immaturity, and you cannot really correct immaturity, only feed people with faith and love. Besides, saying it only puts a big arrow on it and feeds the negative relationship. Learn to hold back on this, don’t celebrate it, but don’t correct it either, just tolerate it, let it be, and let it die.
- Politicians will always do whatever it takes to avoid conflict. They hate conflict, they hate people having different opinions because they are unsure which side to take, because they do not choose sides based on fruit or personal integrity, they choose sides based on politics. This means that they are bland. Their comments are bland, their preaching is bland, their social media is bland. We have seen this across the world as media has increased in influence, all politicians have become more grey, less flamboyant, more centrist – and in all of that, less authentic. If you post something even mildly controversial, they will not be impressed. Often these politicians in the church, rather than generation new material and new wisdom, and study the Word and pray about how to edify and bless others, but will spy on the social media, and the media of others and try and make what they say more bland or more neutral. I have lost count of the number of people who have contacted me on the TV ministry, the radio ministry or our social media, and contacted me and said that I said something too strong, or too direct. They want me to be less of a king and more of a politician! And then you look at their social media and you realize it is an echo chamber without anything that is not 100% accepted by their political party. It is not reigning like a king, it is not challenging or inspiring people, it is not lifting people to a new level. A politician cannot knight someone, only a king can. A politician can only expose and pull down and try and remove the spice from kings! When someone is contacting you and asking you to be more politic in the way you say things, they are trying to cancel out your kingly authority, to reduce you to their level, and to destroy your distinctiveness.
If you make everything so bland as to not offend anyone, you will never command a storm to cease, never pull someone out of a wheelchair, and never teach someone a life changing truth. You might be feeding a few people a few scraps, and they are so grateful for it, but you will never start a revolution with politics!
- All politicians will avoid danger. Jesus taught us the difference between hirelings and shepherds. Shepherds will run towards danger because they love the sheep. Hirelings will run from danger because they love themselves. When people sense true danger, you see their true colours. Kings lead their people into battle, politicians avoid all battle. You will see politicians fitting into positions in churches and ministries where there is no conflict. You won’t see them on the front line. They need to be insulated from the front line. It’s a hallmark of all politicians.
You need to surround yourself with kings. You need a pastor who is a king, who is a called shepherd who will lead you to green pastures and still waters no matter what way the sheep vote on. You need to learn how to drown out the voices that tell you who you can fellowship with, what you can say and how you can say it until you are as bland as they are – the flavour of water and the colour of magnolia!
Learn how politicians behave, then walk away!
The idea that we need to rule like politicians and statesmen, and this whole concept that a ministry needs to move from a warrior stage to a politician stage often uses the history of David and Solomon as an illustration, or a prophetic example, of what they are trying to say.
The idea goes something like this: David was a warrior, and that is like a new ministry, being a warrior, but for a ministry to grow, the lead minister needs to learn to be a politician like Solomon, Solomon was a great statesman, and all David’s need to learn to grow into Solomon’s, Solomon after all had more territory than David.
At first glance, it seems like wisdom, and I can see why many people have unthinkingly accepted this teaching. Now, if you have read the other posts I have done on this topic (part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) you will know that the entire idea that we are supposed to rule like statesmen to be a fallacious one – we are called to rule like kings. But, today, I want to dig into this “prophetic analogy” of David and Solomon, and point out a few flaws.
- David and Solomon are not the same person. Solomon is not a more mature David. David was king, he died and then Solomon became king. Any differences between their leadership is due to the fact they are different people with different graces, different ideas, different experiences. David didn’t rule for so many years as David, then God visited him and said “Now, stop being authentic, and start being Solomon, start being something else”. You see one of my greatest issues with this is it leads to inauthentic leaders. They shut up because they want to be diplomatic, they are scared that by holding the sword that the Lord has given them, they will fail to have their ministry grow. This “statesmen” teaching tries to get the young Davids of our generation, and the older Davids too, to dress up in the armour of Solomon. That doesn’t work. It’s inauthentic. The people telling David to wear Solomon’s armour, in my experience are people who have never fought a giant, never lead a church, never planted a ministry. They do not have the fruitfulness and the wisdom necessary to disciple you, so they use fear – if you do not be more diplomatic, your ministry will not grow. We have your best interest at heart, listen to our wisdom. It’s not the wisdom of God, it’s the earthly wisdom of the world sadly.
- Being a diplomat didn’t work out that well for Solomon, he married a whole bunch of women to try and please all the nations around him, forgot about God, forgot about living for God and had a truly unhappy life for most of his life. It’s not something to aspire to, it’s something to avoid! Do not be more like Solomon, be more like David. Be a king! Rule, fight, win.
- Solomon could only be a man of peace because David slaughtered all the enemies. People can only rest in peace because of warrior-leaders. The warriors prepared to stand, to tell it as it is, to refuse to play politics, to refuse to have a negotiation with Goliath. They are the people who make the world a better place. They are the people who bring about peace! David’s should be honoured for the wars they fought and won, and if you are enjoy the fruit of someone else’s successful wars, you should always honour them, not despise them and try and relegate them to a supposed bygone era of when it was ok to fight.
- The idea that you go from warrior to diplomat can be forced into David-Solomon, but what about the (arguably more important) transition of leadership from Moses-Joshua. Moses was the prince of Egypt, no one was more of a statesman than Moses. Joshua was a military general. Yet, the diplomat did not get people into the promised land. Moses sent 12 spies into the promised land, one for every tribe. Joshua sent 2. Moses wanted to make sure all the tribes had a spy, he wanted all the tribes to feel part of it, he did the diplomatic thing, and it led to unbelief. Joshua did the military thing and it led to the conquering of the promised land and the people getting out of the wilderness. I could easily from this transition build a “prophetic paradigm” that until you stop being such a diplomat and such a statesman, and start fighting for what is true and real, and start standing for the promises of God, you will never enter God’s promises for your life. Selah!
I don’t want to argue with other ministers. But this doctrine that all warriors should become statesmen, and the idea that their ministries will not grow unless they do (what a way to add blatant manipulation to your doctrine to get people to embrace it) is not godly, not Biblical, and will end up in people being squeezed into a mold that is not from God. God made us all unique.
What’s interesting is that the people who present this idea to you – they are never pioneers. They have never faced a Goliath, they have never stood and having done all stand. They are politicians themselves. You reigning like a king makes them nervous. Andrew Wommack says:
Persecution is an indication that the ones doing the persecuting are under conviction. They realize that they are not living what your words or actions are advocating and so, in defense of self, they attack the ones whom they perceive to be the source of their conviction. If this is understood, it makes persecution much easier to take. They aren’t just mad at you; they are convicted. When the Gospel is presented in the power of the Holy Spirit, there will always be either a revival or a riot, but not indifference.
This is the truth, people are nervous when they see you healing the sick, casting out devils, they are more nervous when they realize you will not dance to their beat just because they have a nice set of armour, or work for a big ministry. They want you to dial it down, because they live on low-volume. This David to Solomon teaching is actually, below the surface saying “don’t live at the level of a Goliath killer, a nation shaker, a worshipper who loved the Lord”, but reduce yourself to a backslidden fool. who forced his own people into slave labour and taxed them mercilessly, a man who built temples to foreign gods as not to upset the foreigners in his land. That is not a step anyone should ever make, especially a pioneer who is changing the world.
My advice to you – don’t quit winning. Don’t quit standing on the Word. Don’t press mute for anyone. Be loud, be strong, be confident. Ignore the brothers calling you arrogant, ignore the brothers who say your dream is never going to happen. Block the people trying to make you more diplomatic on Facebook, and find some true pioneers to hang around with.
Reign as a king in life! Selah.
Andrew Wommack wrote a whole book on the need to keep the balance of grace and faith. He is absolutely correct, grace is God’s part, faith is our only appropriate response to grace. Ephesians 2.8-9 says we are saved by grace through faith.
No-one is saved by grace alone. No-one is saved through faith alone. We are saved by grace through faith. When our faith touches God’s grace, salvation happens.
They balance is vital not just to the initial born again experience, but to the entire Christian walk. All the benefits of salvation, such as healing, prosperity and abundance, protection from God, peace of mind. They are all by grace through faith.
Faith is believing God’s Word and promises, and speaking them and acting on them before we see or hear a change. It’s being moved by God’s Word and promises over and above what we see and hear. It’s what some Bible teachers call living by revelation knowledge over sense knowledge.
Now, what I have seen in the last couple of years is an explosion of people grasping grace. That is good news, I love the grace of God. I preach the grace of God all over the world, and I oppose legalism with all my heart. But you have to balance grace with faith.
But I am actually watching people today balance their grace with unbelief. What do I mean? Rather than get in the Word, find out God’s promises and act in faith, act like Jesus, act like Abraham, and walk in faith, they stay carnal, act carnal and call it grace.
That’s not going to lead to a miraculous life. It’s not going to lead to abundance. The problem is because people have falsely labelled their carnality “grace”, they don’t have an incentive to change. So, I post this with all the love in the world, to change the labels to the true labels to help motivate people to find the balance.
- I don’t tithe because I am under grace not law! No – tithing started under grace and was done by the father of faith hundreds of years before law. You don’t tithe because of unbelief. Stop balancing your grace with unbelief, step out in faith and believe what God says about finances.
- I don’t go to church because I am under grace. Well, there was no church until there was grace. The church is a work of grace, and true grace people are attracted to the grace place, the local church. The reason people don’t go to church is that they simply do not believe what the Bible says about the importance of church. It’s not grace that means people don’t attend church – it’s unbelief.
- It’s not grace that means a man walks out of his marriage into the arms of another woman. It’s unbelief!
- It’s not grace to say that sowing and reaping have passed away, it’s unbelief.
- It’s not grace to gossip and be snide, it’s unbelief.
- Grace isn’t the reason you are unfruitful, it’s unbelief.
The good news is it is very easy to operate.in faith. Simply read your Bible, declare the promises and believe them.
One of the things you must get used to when you are reigning as a king is being called names by the fruitless politicians who cannot deal with your authority.
I thought I would provide a handy dictionary to help you translate what people mean when they call you names:
- You are offending me – the truth offends me, but I cannot say that out loud, people will realize how immature I am
- You are harsh, abrasive, rude, uncouth, undiplomatic or unpastoral – I am really annoyed I can’t control you
- You are not accountable to anyone – you are not accountable to me
- You should think before you speak – you should think about how it affects me personally, and not the kingdom of God
- I thought you were supposed to be a pastor – I don’t know a single thing about being a pastor, and I don’t know a single Scripture about pastoring, but you are supposed to do what I want
- I thought this was supposed to be a grace church – I thought you were supposed to be doing what I want all the time
- I feel my advice could help you here – Here is a nice suit of armour, David…
- How dare you say xxx? – I can clearly see you never said that, but arguing with what you did say is too hard, so I will change what you said to suit my argument.
These are all simple politician tricks to make you feel bad about being fruitful and bring you down to their fears and neuroses about what people think of them.
Keep looking for the next post, it’s a big one, about how the statesman Moses could not get the people into the promised land, but the warrior Joshua could. It will sort out this all warriors need to become statesmen nonsense some are saying.
One of the concerns of a democratic system is often called the “tyranny of the majority”. It is the idea that the majority, because everyone has one vote, can easily outvote a minority, and impose their rule and their ways on a minority.
Healthy democracies have checks and balances to ensure this does not occur, to balance the desire for justice with the need to give every individual a vote.
When a church or ministry however is led by a politician, not a king, someone who leads through people pleasing rather than God pleasing, then sadly there are often no checks or balances, and then – and this is the ugly side of religion – the majority do rule, and they do become tyrannical.
The irony is the person who knows the people do not rule him or dictate to him, the person without a political bone in their body, the person who doesn’t care about pleasing people is the one who can actually help all people, including the minorities, the dispossessed, the powerless.The political leader on the other hand has to constantly divide people into groups and can only do what the largest group wants:
- The pastor who cannot preach a series on loving others, evangelism, same sex marriage because it will upset the majority of the church. Now the majority are the tyrant shutting down the will of God in that church.
- When a minister who would be a great blessing isn’t invited because many people, or even a vocal minority, object, then the blessing is lost because of politics, then there is tyranny there.
Sadly, what often happens in these situations is the ministry or church ends going nowhere. Imagine a bus that was run by democracy. You reach a roundabout and drive onto the roundabout. At the first exit, 25% of people want to take the first exit, but 75% want to stay on the roundabout. At the second exit, 25% of people want to get off that exit but 75% of people want to stay on. This goes on for ever, so a bus driven by a politician will never go anywhere. Resemble anywhere you know? Selah!