Dealing With Worry 01: What is Worry?

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Welcome to the Dream Academy. We are here to help you walk in your dreams through motivation, teaching, inspiration and challenge.

Today is #teachingtuesday, and we are going to start a series on dealing with worry. Worry is one of the biggest dream-killers that exists. You need to learn how to identify and deal with worry.

The English word worry actually has its roots in the word “strangle”, which is one of the most powerful descriptions of what worry does to you – it strangles the life out of you. It sucks the life and peace and joy out of you and stops you from moving forward and walking in your dreams.

Worry can easily become an obsession in your life – you look at a situation, a problem, a fear, and you obsess over it, you look at every aspect of it, you analyse every potential situation that could happen, and you end up making mountains out of molehills.

Worry is not just in your mind though, it starts to affect your body. You start to get hot-and-bothered, you start to feel sick. Even if the chances of something happening is next to nothing, we can still worry about it to the point that we cannot function. This is something we have to function.

Worry is a force of destruction. It will mess up your mind and body. It is not healthy. It is not something we should be permitting in your life.

One of the things I want to teach you about in this #teachingtuesday series is how to tell the difference between worry and faith. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will speak to us about something – for example, the Holy Spirit might tell you that one of your children is facing a problem. That’s not worry, that’s the witness of the Spirit. You have to listen to the Comforter when He tells you there is a problem, so you can bring the Word of God in prayer to that problem; and you have to realize that is not worry – worry never brings the Word of God into a situation and has no comfort. Some people are so anxious that even the witness of the Spirit is turned into worry by their mind, rather than turned into prayer in the Spirit.

The opposite of worry is hope. When you have hope, in God, in your ability to win, in your future, then you start to feel at ease. Sometimes hope and worry exist in our mind together at the same time, and that can be hard to deal with. We will spend some time learning how to control our thinking and deal with worry forever.

Now this is a simple introduction to the topic, and we will go in depth in the next few weeks in our dream academy. Consider this module 1. But the fact is some of you reading this cannot wait 4-8 weeks to learn more to deal with worry, because right now it is paralysing your mind. So let me give you the condensed version of how to deal with worry right now:

  1. Change what you are listening to. Words paint the pictures in your mind, so change what words you are hearing to change those pictures. Spend time listening to people who bring hope and life to you.
  2. The natural enemy of worry is love. The more you think about how much you are loved by God, by people, by friends and family, the more worry loses its ability to conquer you.
  3. A spoken word always beats a thought. When your thoughts lead you to a dark place, start talking light and life. Start saying how awesome you are, and how you are going to win and conquer and be a champion. Start speaking your dreams and you will walk in your dreams.

If you start to take that advice, you can deal with worry forever! But keep coming back and reading as we will unpack all this advice and give you some really practical help on how to deal with worry.

Pastors and Elders III: What Paul taught the Elders

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I said in the first post in this series (https://benjaminconway.net/2014/05/19/pastors-and-elders-ii-the-elders-conference/) that we would find out what Paul taught the elders at Miletus.  And I give you my word that before this series is over we will look at Acts 20.  But due to emails and questions that have arisen from the first post, I am going to answer some more questions first, laying a foundation to what we will say later.  In Acts 14.23, it says that Paul ordained elders in the churches.  Part of being a healthy New Testament church is having elders ordained by a pastor or apostle.  In fact I would go as far as to say that if you do not have ordained elders, then you are not going to a church.  Certainly the apostle Paul did not know a church without pastorally ordained elders!  So elders are vital to any discussion of church health and leadership.

Today, I want to answer the question what is an elder.  Great question – glad you asked, and glad the answer is in the Bible!  Every church should have several elders.  In James 5.14, sick people are told to call the elders (more than one – notice the “s” at the end) of the church (just one church, notice the lack of “es” at the end!).  So a church should have some elders, and everyone in the church should know who they are.  Eldership should not be a secret! Titus was told to ordain elders in the church as well.  If you read Acts 15.1-2 you find out that the early church had apostles and elders.  There was a plurality of elders in Jerusalem and they worked with the apostles.  They had a discussion on the role of the law in the church – and Peter was the spokesman for all the apostles (see v. 7) but James (see v. 13) was the spokesman for the elders.  Apostles – along with prophets, teachers and evangelists – are travelling ministries.  Elders – along with pastors – are local ministries.  James, functioning as the chief elder, was the pastor of the Jerusalem church.  Later in history, you find James takes the title of pastor of the church of Jerusalem.  And we can see that role developing here in Acts 15, and in Acts 21.18 when Paul visits Jerusalem with the phrase “James and all the elders”.  That’s how a church should be run with “Pastor, and all the elders”.  To meet Paul, James brought all the elders.  They were all elders, but James was in a different role and office: James was the pastor – ruling over and shepherding the elders.  Pastors are appointed by Jesus (Ephesians 4.11) but elders are appointed by pastors or apostles.  Elders are to help the pastor oversee the church and love and disciple people.

The Bible tells us: Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. (Hebrews 13.7).  The elders are supposed to rule over the people – not in an arrogant hard-hitting way, but in the way of leading them to the Word, helping them be disciples, inspiring them to dream and challenging them to life the dream.  They are supposed to teach in their house groups and they are supposed to both teach the Word, based on the apostle’s or pastor’s teaching, and then set an example for the faith.  That is the role of an elder in one verse:

  • Rule – through love and grace, make disciples. 
  • Teach the Word of God to people, based on what the apostles and pastors are teaching
  • Set an example of faith for people to follow

That is what a Biblical elder should look like.  They are not necessarily preaching – that is the role of the pastor and the 5-fold – they are not necessarily running the show, but they are looking after people in their house on a regular basis, showing love, setting an example, ruling in love and teaching the Word.  

Next week: what are the requirements of being an elder

Be A Voice, Not an Echo!

I recently read an article on pastoral leadership, and as I was reading it, it just seemed inauthentic, and at the same time a little bit familiar.  So after a little time with Google, I found out this article was actually two other articles, both penned by experienced pastors, both of which I had already read – but they had been joined together by this guy as part of his blog.

Sometimes people come to our church because someone else told them we are an Andrew Wommack-church, or a Kenneth Copeland-church, or a Dave Duell-church.  They are soon shocked because I am not Andrew Wommack, Kenneth Copeland or Dave Duell.  I am Ben Conway, and I am very different from those three people, even though I love and honour all of them.  

A lady who was coming to our church on Sundays was starting her own church on Fridays, around the corner, trying to use our church as a base for inviting people to her church.  She used to take the teachings I wrote for my elders to teach and pass them off as her own teachings, even passing off my testimonies as her testimonies!

All three of these things have a similar link: and that is that church leaders can often be much more of an echo than a voice.  People find something that is popular and instantly try and emulate it, copy it, or in the worst cases – just simply rip it off.  It’s lazy, it’s inauthentic and it ultimately does not work.

Now, there is nothing wrong (IMHO) if you have been studying let’s say healing for the last year or two, to take one of T L Osborn’s sermons on healing and preach it.  It’s a great outline – it works, and it will be authentic because you are in the Word and know the Scriptures well, and understand the message for yourself.  Kenneth Copeland started off preaching Kenneth Hagin messages – and most people know that, but they forget that he soon stopped doing that and started preaching his own messages, and his ministry has gone a very different direction to Rhema because Copeland is not a rip-off of Hagin, he is a prophet and teacher in his own right.  Imagine how many great revelations and sermons would be lost to the body of Christ if Copeland was still teaching Hagin’s material.

There comes a day when you have to stop being an echo and be a voice.  People coming to the Tree looking for an Andrew Wommack church are often disappointed in me.  Some because they don’t know Andrew except as a voice on the TV, and are looking for a church that is nothing more than a voice on the TV where you watch and sometimes buy a DVD and are shocked when we speak about church things like culture, and serving, and punctuality, and dreaming and planning.  They are looking for a TV show and got upset when they found a church.

Other people are upset the first time they find out I don’t agree 100% with Andrew’s opinions on EVERY SINGLE VERSE!  Sorry, cloning hasn’t been invented yet – I am my own man with my own verse.  They are looking for an echo, but they found a voice.  But the truth is that I have a unique voice, and I have helped people in ways that other people could not – if I was still being an echo, the body of Christ would be diminished.

You have to find your voice.  If your blog is just other people’s posts and your Facebook is just what you share, how will people ever know what you give a damn about, what you love, what you hate, what matters to you.  Your voice needs to be heard.  John the Baptist was a voice, he knew what God had called him to do and was doing it.  That’s how you become a voice – you find out what God has called you to do and do it.  

Echos fade away, they are easily misunderstood, you can’t stop an echo and clarify.  If you are teaching sermons you could not answer questions on, you are an echo.  If you are always having to use other people’s testimonies to back up your point, you are an echo.  If you have to cut and paste other people’s blog posts and change the words slightly to appear wise, you are an echo.  

If that’s you, go and lock yourself in a cupboard somewhere with a Bible, get on your face before God and ask Him: What is my message?  Why am I in the body of Christ?  What have you called me to do?  It’s time to find out – we need voices in the body of Christ, and we need them now.

 

Role of the Pastor 6: Training

Part of your role is training the sheep.  You will be loved for feeding them, and hated for training them.  You are responsible for training the sheep to embrace and understand the culture of your church, how to behave at church, and how to live the Christian life.  The worst pastors are the pastors that let anything go – their churches are not safe places to be.  Things will get out of line if you just leave them to their own devices.  That is a fact!

Paul asked the Christians in Corinth this pertinent question: “Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” (2 Cor. 4.21).  Most of the time you come to the sheep in love and with meekness, but there are times you have to lay down the law.

You have to purge certain tendencies and ideas out of your church.  If your sheep think you are a weak leader, then you will be exploited by your church, and taken for a ride more than once.

Many years ago, I was at a church once where the pastor called a young man to the front of the church.  It was a mid-week meeting, and I didn’t really know the church.  I thought they were going to honour the guy in some way, and to be honest, the guy looked like he did too.  But the pastor said “This young man is a thief and a liar, he has conned several people in the church by doing this and that.  Look at him, and do not be conned by him.  He has seduced several ladies in the church and blackmailed them and stolen from them.”  I was stunned, but the church applauded – they knew people that had been hurt by this man, and who had lost property to his con.  There as a young man, I learned the power of strong leadership to protect the sheep. You cannot let people come to your church and just do whatever they want. 

I was once physically removing a young man from a youth meeting for continually making sexually offensive comments to the young ladies, I was the youth pastor in that church.  The senior pastor saw me doing it and told me to be a bit more gentle.  When I explained what the young man had done, the senior pastor told me to be a little more rough!

1 Cor. 5.6-7 is clear: Know ye not that a little leaven leaventh the whole lump?  Purge out therefore the old leaven.  This is so important – people will corrupt people.  Negative, whining, complaining people will infect people.  You need to train your people to reject gossip and reject whining, and reject negativity.  

To some people in your church you need to be strong, and tell them that their behaviour was disappointing, was destructive, that was not healthy behaviour.  You need to have a statement of culture that you can refer to and let people know “this is not how we do things around here”.  In doing this, you do not humiliate people.  You don’t tell people off in public unless their behaviour is destructive and they have been warned privately several times (as happened in both above illustrations) – you don’t humiliate people.  Sometimes you have to be hard with people, but you never have to be harsh.

“Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out, yea, strife and reproach shall cease” (Proverbs 22.10).  Sometimes you have to correct people right out the church.  But when you do, strife and reproach stop and it is the greatest feeling on the planet.  Some people just need to leave the church, their presence is nothing but disruptive and unhelpful.  It is that simple sometimes!

But for most people, training is a much more positive experience.  Correction is one side of training, but discipleship is the other side. Three things your church should have to help train people:

1. An obvious path of training.

2. An obvious place of training.

3. An obvious reward to training.

An obvious path to training means that let’s say someone gets saved in your church, or comes from another church, they should know immediately what to do if they want to be discipled.  For us in the Tree, it’s join a small group.  We also have a 5 week course called Vision and Values where we explain our vision and values to people and that ends with us making sure that we open to door for people to be discipled.  For me, the three main areas of discipleship for new Christians or Christians that aren’t growing are: how to read the Bible yourself, how to flow in the gifts of the Spirit and how to relate to a local church – so we do training on all of that.  The courses are offered as often as we can – ideally I’d like to offer them about twice as much as we do, but that’s ongoing development of the church.

An obvious place of training is that people know where they can go if they need help.  Again at the Tree that’s our small groups – the Living Churches.  You go there and you are trained, and taught the Word and encouraged.  You can receive prayer if you need and you will grow.  Any problems and the elder running the group can help or get help.

Finally rewards for training – people like to be noticed and acknowledged, so we celebrate training, we have a pathway for becoming an elder and we have a way into serving and helping and significance in the church.  People need to feel that they are growing.

Keep a strong handle on the church, and make sure that you are making disciples.

Role of the Pastor 5: Feeding the Sheep

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Shepherds have to feed the sheep.  That should be obvious, but there are a lot of pastors who are not feeding the sheep.  You cannot exaggerate how important it is for the pastors to feed the sheep.  You just cannot overestimate how important this is.  Your preaching to the gathering of the saints is so important – it is one of your primary roles, your key functions as a shepherd, to ensure the sheep are fed.

Earlier we discussed leading the sheep and how important that is, but you cannot lead people you do not feed.  Some people are trying to lead people they don’t feed, and they become controlling and harsh.  If you feed people, they will follow and your church will grow.  If you give people good food, your church will grow.  Some people might not like the food, some people aren’t sheep they are goats – let them go, but keep feeding the people and you will attract a flock.

Parents have authority over their children because they feed them.  When you leave home, get a job and feed yourself, your parents authority diminishes.  Feeding is so important for leading, so important for pastoring.  Jesus told Peter three times in a row: “Feed My Sheep”.  Feeding is vital.

Every pastor must be a preacher and your preaching is where you feed the sheep.  This is key. And we are living in the age Paul warns Pastor Timothy about:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Tim. 4.3-4)

People seem to rather go to a service where they are anointed with oil, where they are given a prophetic word, where there is gold dust and barking dogs, where they are taught about secular psychology and fables made up by men rather than listen to the Word.  The temptation to reduce the preaching of the Word and replace with entertainment.  Some pastors are preaching less than 6-10 minutes on a Sunday morning.  That is not feeding the sheep a meal, that is a bag of Doritos!  That is not a meal!  That will not give the sheep strength to receive healing, to advance the kingdom, to enjoy their career, to love their families.  You need to feed the sheep. You must preach the Word!

Here are three things I believe are vital to a successful feeding ministry:

1. Preparation. You must prepare what you are going to feed to ensure the sheep get a healthy, living and balanced diet.  You cannot just walk into the pulpit and say what you like.  There has been a move recently to see notes as fleshly, but taking the time to prepare is never fleshly – it’s godly.  I preach in months – each month has a theme that fits into the theme for the year.  I am all about building something into people’s minds.  Me just shouting about my hobby horse is not good enough.  You need to plan, research, prepare.  What Scriptures are you using, in what order, what is the point you are making.

2.  Keep to the point.  People like rabbit trails and side points occasionally.  Imagine they are like salt and pepper.  Just a little to give it flavour, but if you are continually going off point you haven’t prepared enough.  It takes me a whole day at least to prepare a message.  Lazy preachers and lazy pastors don’t prepare the food and don’t season it.  They are feeding their church Iceland frozen chicken nuggets and wonder why the church are spiritually malnourished. 

You are called to feed the sheep.  You are called to prepare the best for them.  Choose your points, meditate on your points, consider how the sermon is structured.  Introduce the sermon by telling the people what you preached last week and how it links to this week, tell the people what your points are and where you are going with the message – it’s a good habit to help you keep on track.  Then preach.  Then conclude well.  Prepare and plan how you are going to end.  Will you end with an appeal to change, will you end with an illustration that they are going to take away?  You need to decide before hand.

Of course, someone will tell you that planning is not spiritual, that you should just open your mouth and let it flow.  There are times when that is what to do.  There are occasions when the Lord will lead you a different way.  But mostly when people do that they ramble, they drift, they make no clear point, but rather a hundred different little points none of which impact anyone’s life for the better.  Here’s a revelation: the Holy Spirit can guide the planning!  Let your planning be Spirit-led and you find you don’t have to “go with the flow of the moment” in the pulpit so much any more!

I think some preachers need a big sign at the back of the church that says “WHAT IS THE POINT?” so when they are preaching they know they are making a point!

3.  Let the sheep feed from you.  Jesus said something that requires a lot of consideration: if you don’t eat my flesh you are not part of me.  Sheep need to feed on the shepherd.  What do I mean?  You need to let them see and let them hear that the Word works for you.  If you are teaching healing, talk about a time you laid hands on someone and they got healed.  Let the people see you are talking about what you know.  When you preach on loyalty and are calling for a commitment to the church, let the people know how committed you are.  You need to be careful doing this because your goal is to preach the gospel and teach the kingdom, but principles without practical application wash over people’s head.

At our summer conference once, we raised an offering and it was very low.  It was just under £300 which was very low for the amount of people in the room, and low compared to the costs we needed to pay.  In addition, I was the one who put in £200 into the offering.  So I got up and I told people that I believe in this conference and that if I could put in more money than the rest of the room put together there was a problem.  We received a second offering that came to a lot higher, and I have heard many testimonies of people who received a great return from that offering.  By showing people that I work the Word, I am encouraging – which literally means giving courage to – people to work the same principles.

Remember your examples are not the message: they are the encouragement to get the message.  You teach the Word, but in teaching the Word you have to show that you believe it’s integrity and you are not preaching what you do not practice, but rather you preach what you practice.

Loyalty 6… Signs of Disloyalty 3: Criticism

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Hi there, my name is Benjamin Conway, and I am the pastor of Tree of Life Church in Dagenham.  We are currently looking at the topic of Loyalty – something you need to cultivate as a leader. 

As soon as someone gets to the passive stage of disloyalty (stage 2, as discussed here), you need to know that the next step is criticism.  It’s an easy step – someone gets to the stage where they are annoyed and offended to the point where they stop building the house, they are now in a position to start criticizing how the house is being built.

Someone quits the children’s ministry – not because God is leading them to a new opportunity, but because of offense.  Leave it a while because they will next start to subtly attack the children’s ministry:

“They don’t care for the kids anymore…”

“It’s too worldly…”

“It’s too religious”

“If I was still there, I would…”

They have now stopped building the wall and started ripping down the wall.  They have stopped living for the vision and started finding fault with the vision.  You can only move into the critical phase if you have first stopped working.  People on the team don’t rip the team apart – only the people who have left the team spectate and criticize the team!

When someone is critical you need to watch out – you have an explosion coming.  Now – you might not know that person is critical because they may take their criticisms elsewhere.  But you need to know that a critical person is hard to help.

At this stage, someone will ask “what about a legitimate criticism?”,  That’s a great question, and there are three simple ways to tell the difference between a legitimate criticism and a critical attitude that will lead to disloyalty.

1.  A genuine criticism can be resolved.  Let’s say you were round someone’s house and broke a lamp or something.  They may have genuine reason to criticize you.  But if you buy them a new lamp of equivalent value and style, then it has been resolved.  A critical attitude cannot be resolved.  The person is offended and nothing will make them happy.  You can try a few times but it won’t work.

2.  A genuine criticism is reasonable.  Other people can see it – if you are wise, you can hear the truth in it yourself.  A critical attitude is unreasonable.  A genuine criticism is that the sound quality at the back of the hall was not good today.  A critical attitude wants you to resign, the board to resign and all the elders to resign as they don’t have the right revelations.

3. A genuine criticism is constructive.  The person giving the criticism wants to help, wants to move things forward – they are looking for unity, restoration, progress and building.  A critical attitude is destructive – it wants to rip things apart, it wants to hurt, it wants the win.  Often people who are insecure end up in this stage quickly – the only way they can feel good about themselves is ensuring everyone else feels bad about themselves so they lay into people.

Dealing with this phase is difficult.  People are warm – they are getting hot and are ready to explode quickly and they move onto the political phase quickly.  We will discuss that next week, but let’s conclude this week with three steps to handle critical people in your church, business or camp:

1.  Don’t give them responsibility.  They have probably taken themselves out of any position that involves work in the passive stage, but now they will look for a position that involves responsibility over other performance but no actual work.  Don’t do it.  Don’t be pressured by it.  If someone explodes because you didn’t make them an elder, rejoice – they would have exploded AS an elder at some point and it’s good that didn’t happen.

2. Don’t let criticism from those with attitude get to you.  Don’t even respond to it.  You are not criticism led, you are Spirit led.  That’s a fact.  You should not even respond.  I don’t respond to emails that just tear down, I don’t respond to people who rip me apart and attack our church.  I don’t respond – not even one bit.  I don’t move, I don’t change what I am doing, I don’t fret about it, I don’t lose sleep over it.  Their behaviour is their responsibility.  Their attitude is their responsibility.  I am responsible before God to do what I am called to do.

(As an aside, Facebook is the best way to criticize me if you want to – it has a block button and everything.  It’s awesome!)

3.  Don’t fight fire with fire.  When someone comes at your with criticism, the temptation is point out that they are not all that.  It is a real temptation to tear them to pieces.  Don’t do it.  Bless those who curse you.

Loyalty (part 1)

One of the most important keys in living a successful life is learning the principles behind loyalty. We live in a generation which has largely forgotten the principles of loyalty – and therefore has forgotten the keys to qualification to success.  In a day in which people denigrate local churches, rebel against legitimate authority and hate being led; it is important to grasp loyalty.

Loyalty is the number one qualification to minister. An immature person believes that gifting is the door opener to ministry, but that is not true. When you mature, you discover that faithful and loyal people are the best leaders. An immature person would think that being a nice guy makes for the best pastor, that being a skilful orator makes for the best preacher. But the Scripture could not be more clear:

IT IS REQUIRED IN STEWARDS, THAT A MAN BE FOUND FAITHFUL (LOYAL) (1 Corinthians 4.2).

The pastors in the Tree of Life Church network are not promoted for their good looks, friendly nature or preaching gifts. They are promoted because they are loyal. Loyal people are the best gifts a church can have.

Jesus said that you will know you are His disciples not by gifting or anointing but by love. Loyalty is a form of love – and people are attracted to loyal people. Church people are not blind. They are not deaf. They can tell if you are discordant. They can feel if you are disloyal. If the water is murky – the sheep will not go near it. And then you are frustrated that you are not moving forward in ministry, but you don’t know there is no crocodile in the waters unless they are still waters.

There are several manifestations of disloyalty but the main one is criticism. Disloyalty leads to you noticing and magnifying faults. In the church you find fault with the preaching, with the order of service, with the building, with the systems, with the people, with the structure of the church.

Just like Miriam became critical of Moses: it was by following Moses she got free from Egypt. It was by following Moses she was no longer a slave. It was by Moses that she was redeemed. But now all she could see was Moses’ faults and flaws. She spoke out publicly about Moses’ marriage. She criticised him out loud. Disloyalty has a voice.

“And Miriam spoke against Moses” (Numbers 12.1)

Disloyal people are like eagles’ looking for faults. Scrutinizing the church to find fault. They create an atmosphere that can break a church into pieces. Disloyalty can destroy a church faster than anything else.  If people are insecure and aren’t comfortable in a place, they will rather than look at themselves and challenge themselves will look for someone to blame.  That happens a lot in churches – if you are pastor, don’t beat yourself up over it.  Don’t try and please everyone – that’s called the number one way to ensure you never have a church over 100.  People will always threaten to leave if you take their ministry away, change to songs they don’t like, or lead them forward.

Your point of view depends on your viewpoint. If you are looking for faults you will find them. If you are looking with critical eyes you will always find something to criticise. If you look with loving eyes, you will always find something to love.

Absalom could only see the deficiencies of David’s kingship. But the problem was in his eyes. 

Doctors make oaths to respect their teachers, but people in churches sometimes get a little success and a little promotion and forget who loved them there, who helped them there, who taught them what they know. The deception of disloyalty is that it makes people think they don’t need leadership anymore, that they don’t need help, that God’s structures don’t work because of a small problem in the system.

Our goal in the Tree of Life Church is to create a culture of loyalty. That we all have a reverence and genuine love for leadership. That we grasp what it takes to move forward as the body of Christ.

So, how can we develop that culture. Here are three simple keys that will help you develop a culture of loyalty:

1. The NORTH WIND face

“The north wind drives away rain; so does an angry face drive away a biting tongue” (Proverbs 25.23)

The first key is when you hear someone biting, someone running down the church, the leaders, the people, the building, the service: give them a facial expression that shuts them up. Show someone clearly you are not interested in their gossip and their conversation. This will deter most of the problem straight away. This will create a culture of loyalty and unity. If people realize disloyal talk is not welcome, then they will cease from it.

Sometimes disloyal talk is about flattering you to put someone else down. Don’t fall for it. “Oh the only reason I am at this church is because of you” is nice to hear but it will puff you up and divide the church. Give them a withering look. It works!

They said of David he killed his tens of thousands when he had only killed one. Don’t fall for your own press! 

Gossip is a KILLER.  We still haven’t accepted it, we still don’t believe it.  We happily roast people for dinner and happy go out for coffee and feast on the bones of our colleagues, family and church members.

2. Don’t go somewhere your heart isn’t in

If you are in a church, especially if in leadership, and your heart isn’t in it, remove your body as well. It helps! You can’t change a church from within, you can only split it!

“A LITTLE LEAVEN LEAVENS THE WHOLE LUMP” (1 Cor. 5.6)

One disgruntled elder can pollute the whole church. Never manipulate people to stay in your Living Church, in your group, in the Tree of Life if their heart is gone. Let them go. It’s that simple.

Some pastors are too soft to remove disloyal, grumbling, divisive people. They don’t protect the sheep from being polluted. 

I’m not talking about leaving because you are having a carnal fit.  People do that to churches all the time.  I’m talking about you know the vision isn’t your vision but you are there to “help” the leadership.  Get over yourself – God has a place for you where you will fit in – it won’t be perfect but it will be real.  Most people don’t leave when their visions clash, but hold on until they are well and truly offended, storm off and never go to church again.  Get a grip – harness those emotions and realize who you are!

3. Set fire to some stuff

In Acts 28 they built a fire, and a snake came out of the fire when it was lit. They picked up a snake thinking it was a harmless stick. But when the fire came the snake jumped out.

Some people look lovely and harmless and wonderful, but when fire comes you find out they are snakes. You change a procedure, ban a certain song, don’t let them lead something the way they want to and they bite. Trials and difficulties reveal people’s nature. The truth is that anyone who wants to do God’s will ends up getting bitten – it happened to Jesus, to Paul, to all people. 

Do not be in a hurry to promote people. Try not promoting them – try taking their responsibilities away from them for a while. That kind of fire reveals people’s hearts. If they were disloyal because you didn’t promote them, rejoice – they would have taken the position and used it as a platform to be disloyal.

A person’s reaction to change is a revelation of their character.

These THREE things will help all of us walk in the unity that God has for us. There is a lot in this post, but if you take it to heart it will lift you and help you be all you can be.

 

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