Leadership and Tithing

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Letting people know your vision as a leader is vital as a pastor as people give to vision. At Tree of Life, we want people to understand God and His nature and His principles, and how to live by faith in every single area of their life and finances is no exception. It would be hard to be at the Tree of Life for any length of time and not understand the principles of tithing and sowing and reaping. As a result, people in our church are getting promotions and new jobs all the time – finances are coming to them in abundance.

But we are still not at the place where I want to be, and that is at the place to bless London. And to progress in wealth increase, understanding must increase. People must understand what money has to do with the kingdom of God or people will not give and then they will not receive. If you don’t know something – you can’t walk in it. That’s why people are destroyed through lack of knowledge. I know pastors who are scared of talking about money, but if the shepherds of the sheep don’t talk about money and the prophets of God don’t talk about money, then people will only ever understand prosperity from a carnal, worldly point of view and that will never help them!

I would never want to be someone who did not teach the importance of the tithe. James 3.1 says teachers will be judged more strictly – because as a teacher of God’s Word you are not just judged on your lifestyle and your investment in the kingdom, but you are judged on what you taught the church. I would never want to be in a position where I am judged for failing to teach people the truth about tithing and how giving in faith is the single most important key to financial freedom. Paul taught the Corinthians and the Galatians about sowing and reaping, and in Hebrew’s he said that:

And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth (Hebrews 7.8)

So, here on earth you tithe to a human being – a ministry, a church, a para-church organization – but something that is human. But as you take your tithe and give it to the local church and the leadership of the local church, in heaven, that money is presented straight to Jesus. That is an awesome truth. and one that people need to know. When you tithe, that gift is part of your worship, part of your sacrifice of praise to the Lord Jesus Christ!

So when you tithe, realize that your money is not just going to an earthly organization – it is reaching Jesus. Jesus receives tithes today. Worship the Lord through your giving.

And with the tithe, the local church then pays for pastors to love you, and shepherd you and teach you, it pays for training for musicians to lead worship, for children’s pastors to train your children in a godly way, for meetings and special speakers who bring you truth and freedom.

The tithe is doubly amazing as it produces fruit on two levels; the heavenly level and the earthly level.

To bless London as a church is more than just a gimmickly slogan with us, it’s what we genuinely want to do, it’s the life we want to life. We want London to be a better place because Tree of Life is there. Tithing is one of the ways we can lift people’s lives: we can encounter Jesus as He receives our tithe, and we can spend the money on earth to impact the city. Tithing is one of the keys to impacting a city with the love of God.

In Abraham’s life, tithing was a step of faith. In the Old Testament it became a mandatory law. Now in the New Covenant, it is back to being a privilege, a step of faith in God’s goodness and graciousness. Tithing is a step of faith which says that I believe God is first with my money, I believe God is the most important source in my life, I believe that God is first. If the church cannot make Him first with money then the city will never be challenged or inspired to make Him first in anything.

The tithe also is a step of honour and gratitude. By taking 10% of our income and giving it to Jesus, we are showing beyond the shadow of a doubt that we are grateful for the other 90%! Never pressurize someone to tithe, but do teach the Word and do press people to make a decision to honour God with their finances.

Finally, giving 10% does not mean you can then afford to be a poor steward with the other 90%. Some people think: right, I have paid God off now I will spend the rest on me how I want. Don’t be that person – ask God for wisdom and boldness with the other 90%, the way He leads may surprise you but I bet you end up better off living off of God’s wisdom than living off of your own!

 

No Regrets

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Of course, no matter what you or I have ever done there is goodness and mercy following us all the days of our lives.  But the truth is that the easiest way of living a life without regrets is not to actually do anything you regret.  Thom Rainer did a survey of pastors in America and asked them the simple question what do you regret most during your time pastoring.  These are the top seven answers:

  1. Said or wrote something out of anger. 
  2. Obsessed with one or a few critics. 
  3. Failed to admit a mistake. 
  4. Neglected a family member for a church need. 
  5. Pushed an initiative rather than getting buy-in.
  6. Left a church too soon. 
  7. Focused on/obsessed over another church in the community

If you are new to church leadership or have been pastoring for years, just take the time to read this list slowly, contemplatively, prayerfully.  Consider where you are vulnerable.  Consider where you might – if you don’t change the train you are on – have regrets where you end up.  Do you have a temper?  Do you obsess about the one person who moans rather than the people who were saved, healed, encouraged, inspired and challenged?  Do you fail to be honest with someone?  Have you ever put church above family?  Ever acted in a way as to get there first rather than bring as many people with as possible?  Ever quit when you shouldn’t have quit?  Ever thought more about a church where you don’t go, don’t worship, don’t lead, don’t serve too much?  

If so, time to renew your mind, transform your life and minister and pastor.  No regrets.  Nip it in the bud before it grows all over your garden.

Spirit Filled

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It’s not enough for one man to be Spirit filled and flowing in the gifts. 
It’s not enough for there to be a man of God to come to and bring people to when emergencies and problems arise.

The fivefold ministry must return to its Biblical purpose and mandate and equip people to minister and serve supernaturally. We must be releasing people into the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We must be enabling people to walk into the callings and destinies that God has given them even from inside the womb. 

The world is never going to stand back and say “what an awesome man”, “what a glorious prophet”, “what an anointed apostle”. But if the awesome man, the glorious prophet and the anointed apostle do what God called them and designed them to do and equip and inspire and challenge the Christians to live in love and peace and life, and minister supernatural life and deliverance and healing everywhere they go, then the world will stand back and go “what an awesome church”, “what glorious Christians”, “what an anointed co-worker”… and then we will impact the world in such a way that Jesus will be able to return in our generation.

That is why one of our unmovable, unshakable pillars at Tree of Life Church – in every Tree of Life Church – is “full of the Spirit”. Not just the pastor, not just the Conways, but every single person full of the Spirit. 

We need to ensure our churches have gateways where people can receive the Spirit on a regular basis (different people – let’s not fall for the old “we leak and need top up” nonsense) and we need pathways in which people can understand the gifts and how to flow in them.

We have a two week course called “Prophetic Workshop” in which we get people baptized in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues and prophesying. I am currently writing an 8 week course on how to discover your giftings in the local body of believers. This is something we are going to do deliberately, intentionally because it is how we want our church to look.

When you decide that your church needs to be like this: you need to decide the gateway and pathway for yourself.  Will you give altar calls for the Holy Spirit baptism on Sunday mornings?  In the small groups?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  Think about these things in the light of your situation – there is no right or wrong answer as long as there are gateways.

We have one month every year in which we preach and teach on the Holy Spirit and His gifts.  Then we will give public appeals to be filled with the Spirit each week.  We will then have further open appeals in the week.  I am in the process of ensuring all our small group leaders and lead someone in the baptism of the Holy Spirit in a quiet, calm, no-nonsense manner.  Your situation may be different, but you have to have a plan.

A gateway is the way in, but a pathway is the way along.  Some people may come to your church from a church where tongues is a swear word – or (even worse) a kooky charismatic church where tongues was misused and prophesy was abusive.  How are you going to teach and train those people how to flow in the gifts in a way which is encouraging, comforting and edifying to the entire church?

The way you do this must be deliberate – it cannot be haphazard.  Take some time this week to make a plan – a God-inspired plan – and then when you are confident with it, communicate it to your leadership and put it in place.

Every pastor should be able to answer these two questions succinctly and accurately:

1. How can I be baptized in the Holy Spirit?

2. Where can I learn more about the gifts around here?

Selah!