Role of the Pastor 4: Taking the Land

Part of being a pastor is taking the land.  God has given us a land of promises, but we have to take those promises and make the manifest in life.  Being a pastor means taking those promises and helping other people get into them and walk in them, it means killing the giants in their way, and clearing a path for them.

Listen to me, pastor, you have to train your sheep how to fight.  You have to show people how to have a dream and how to fight for that dream and make the right choices that mean they walk in that dream.  And you have to set an example.  When there were 20 people at Tree of Life, I was dreaming of 50.  When there were 50 people, I was dreaming of 100.  As we are just about to reach 150, I am dreaming of 250.  Dreaming of bigger!   Dreaming of more!  Dreaming of increase!  Then making the right choices to ensure that we walk in the dream.  It is the duty of every pastor on planet earth to take as much land as possible!  The church is not a social club, it isn’t a club – it’s an army that will take the land of promises and walk in the promises.

Moses told Joshua in Exodus 17 to choose men of war.  There are times where we need to put a backbone of steel in our people and get them to fight.  To fast, to pray, to believe, to study, to prepare, to push, to kick sickness, to punch poverty, to deny disunity.

You can’t get into the land of promises unless you fast and pray – are you showing your people how to do that? You cannot get into the land of promises unless you renew your mind – are you showing your people how to do that?  You cannot get into the land of promises unless you develop some emotional stability?  Are you showing your people how to do that?

Are you training your people how to fight?  Are you fulfilling your role as a land-taker?  

You see a lot of pastors see their role as inspirational, and that is true.  My entire life ministry is to provoke and inspire people to dream big.  But I learned very early that it’s not enough to get people to dream, you need to challenge people to live the dream.  You won’t live the dream sitting at home eating coco pops at midday and watching daytime TV.  You need to change your thinking, your perceptions, your actions, your choices, your everything.  That takes time, that takes prayer.  That takes an attitude of war.  That takes a take the land mentality, and a take the land kind of leader.

Are you taking the land?  Are you encouraging others to take the land?

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What Do You Want? (part 1)

I am a grace man. Truly I am. All I want is the world to know about His grace and the complete work.

However, when dealing with pastors who want to leave all church growth to God I get wound up.  I seriously want to spit bricks.  The United Kingdom is in too much of a mess to sit down, sip lemonade and say “que sera sera”.  We need large, healthy, growing churches – churches that change lives, churches that heal the sick, churches that both challenge and welcome the surrounding community, churches where people are getting born again, are grasping the gospel and living the kingdom.  Churches which are not just healthy but safe.  Churches which don’t have a large back door (you will always have some people leave – even Jesus had Judas, you can’t please everyone!) but that are mended nets – whole and secure, keeping the caught fish.

I have a dream.  It is a simple dream.  I dream of a church that is everything Jesus died for.  Miracles are common in this church as everyone in the church is equipped to minister supernaturally.  Lives are changed in this church as the gospel is the central message and foundation to everything the church does.  In short, I dream of a church that looks like Jesus.

But dreams are easy to say.  Anyone can dream.  I am not opposed to dreaming, not in the slightest – I am a dreamer and I want everyone around me to dream and dream big.  Part of our church’s vision statement is “Building disciples who dream big”.   But dreaming can easily become pipe dreaming (a phrase I only recently learned comes from the people who dream after smoking an opium pipe!  We need to be dreamers, not stoners!) unless we make the necessary choices to see those dreams come true.

Easter Sunday 2013 is now gone.  Although I am overwhelmed by the fact we saw 6 salvations, countless healings (including a man healed of MS), and 20 new people at Tree of Life, I cannot rest on my laurels.  I cannot say “Look that at” because we are absolutely not there yet.

This year I have already been to one leadership conference (One Way, at Kingdom Faith – with James Galloway, Clive Urquhart and Colin Urquhart.  Absolutely inspired me to ensure that our church systems are robust and that I am raising leaders – something I am committed to anyway, but we all need fired up and given more wisdom on how to do it!), I have signed up to a leadership training course, we are hosting our own leadership conference in just a few weeks, I am then off to another pastor’s conference with George and Hazel Hill (who have planted 3000 churches in their lifetime!) and then another conference in October.  I am doing everything I can to learn about leadership and pastoring a growing church.  

Why?  Because I want it to happen.  And I know it will not happen by me closing my eyes and hoping and praying.  It simply won’t.

In 1 Cor. 3.9 Paul says about the church, “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

He opens the statement by saying he is a co-worker with God.  Here’s a little bit of Biblical wisdom for you: co-workers WORK.  There is no church growth without work.  Save us Lord from lazy pastors.  Sometimes I outline my schedule of work to other pastors and they cannot believe how much I travel, visit and prepare for everything we do.  But it is only by working with God can we build the churches of our dreams.  So many people have a dream, but never put it to work.  That makes you a stoner not a dreamer.  Get off your backside and do something.

For me I always work with the dream, the scheme and the theme.  The dream is the end product – that is where I am going  The scheme is the blueprint – that is the plans to do it.  The theme is the step I am taking right now.  Now most people get confused because the theme doesn’t match the dream, and a lot of people lack the humility to live the dream by taking the first step of their dream.

For example, you might have a dream to pastor a church of 3000.   I know I do.  But unless I am prepared to pastor a church of 10, I will never get there.  There are no churches of 3000 in this nation that will phone you up and invite you to suddenly be the new senior pastor.  And if they did you wouldn’t have a clue what to do anyway, and would lose and hurt, and seriously injure a great deal of people.  So what is the first step?   For me, it was building a church website and putting an invite in the local paper.  One person came to our first meeting.  We had no denomination, no back up, no covering, no help, no money, no wisdom, no nothing.  But we treated that one person like a princess – loved her, taught her the Word.  And then there were 5 (six months later, mind you), and then 7 and then 10 (double digits was revival in those days!), and it took on from there.  All the time I was working as a teacher, working as a postman, my wife was working two jobs most of that time just to pay the bills.  It did not look like my dream, but it was the first step towards our dream.  It takes guts, character and wisdom to take that first step.  It is my firm belief that most people know what the first step is, they just need to take it.

Your dream might be to lead worship in front of thousands.  Guess what – your first step is when everyone else is going to the party, everyone else is watching the cool TV programme, you are sitting in your room on your own strumming and plucking, reading and praying.  It doesn’t look like your dream, it doesn’t feel like your dream – but it is the first step to your dream.

You might dream of preaching like your hero – so go and learn more about the Bible.  Go and study the Word, sign up for a course, systematically read the Bible.  It won’t look like your dream but it is the first step to your dream.

Today – find out the first step.  Before the end of this week, take it.  If you want to build a Paul-kind of church, you need to be a worker.  Make a decision that you want your church to grow.  God wants your church to grow and He is willing to be a co-worker with you, so why not make the choice to be a co-worker with Him!

In the next part of this article, we will look at gardening!  But until then – what is the first step and take it.  Let me know if this inspires and challenges you because that is what I am praying and believing for!