Category: Leadership

Articles and updates to encourage and equip ministers as they seek to grow in their leadership and raise up leaders.

What Is a Pastor to Do?

john-sprecherby John Sprecher, U.S. FCA Lead Elder
November 6, 2016

Here we are, facing the conclusion of what has undoubtedly been the most tempestuous U.S. election cycle in memory.

So how have you, as a pastor or spiritual leader, handle the politically charged rhetoric? How have you shepherded the flock God has put in your care?

The ideological divide between the parties and the extreme personalities of the candidates could not be more different. Without doubt, this election will have lasting implications on our nation and world. It will determine the make-up of the next U.S. Supreme Court. Issues such as gay rights, immigration, terrorism, and energy independence will be hot agenda items for the next president.

While it is vital that we speak to the issues of the day—especially those with moral concerns that violate biblical mandates—as ministers we need to be careful that we don’t forget our first call: to preach the Gospel of the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On Sunday after the election, you will likely preach to several kinds of people: Republicans, Democrats, independents, and even those who simply chose to stay home and not vote at all. You will preach to angry people, to disillusioned people, to fearful people, and to people who are trusting for a political solution.

Even with such a diverse group—perhaps especially with a diverse group—your job is to “shepherd the flock of God which is among you…” (1 Peter 5:2a) and to provide eternal “soul care” to those whom God has placed in your congregation. Never forget that the majority of the New Testament was written by and to believers who were being persecuted, but they never lost the perspective that we believers are “in the world but not of it” (John 17:15, paraphrase).

We have a message of hope to all people—a message that goes beyond the politics and inflamed passions of the day, so let us proclaim it boldly.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

 

Generations Coming Together

Tom Flahertyby Tom Flaherty, pastor (City Church, Madison, Wisconsin)

The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.”
And he said, “Go.”
Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?”
“I will,” Elisha replied. And he went with them.  They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water.
“Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!”
The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?”  When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float.
“Lift it out,” he said.  Then the man reached out his hand and took it. (2 Kings 6:1-7)

Every year, Alice and I go to our National FCA Convention where we hear a number of speakers. The final message of last year’s convention was from this text. The first message of this year’s convention was also from this exact text.

Can you imagine how we felt when the second night’s message this year was also from 2 Kings 6:1-7? Three straight speakers all speaking from the same obscure text!

Only God could arrange this, so the question becomes, Why? I think it has to do with the generations coming together. Here are three encouragements for the older generation:

One: Have something from God to give to the younger generation—something they need. Elisha had burned his plow and pressed in for a double anointing, which he then received from Elijah.

The younger generation doesn’t need information from us—they can just Google to get that. But Google can’t supply the wisdom that comes from an ongoing relationship with God. We must keep pressing in for all God has for us so we can be “relevant” to the generations coming behind us. They asked Elisha to come because they needed what he had.

Two: Release the younger generation to go beyond where we’ve been. The idea to build bigger came from the young prophets. The place they where they lived was probably built by Elisha, but the time came when it wasn’t good enough. Instead of being offended by their request, Elisha released them to do something more than he’d done.

King Saul reacted the opposite way. He had become jealous of the next generation and feared they would be greater than he was, so he tried to kill David. But Elijah believed God could take his anointing and double it in the next generation. let’s believe as he did and release the coming generation into even more grace than we’ve experienced.

Three: Go with the next generation to ensure their success. In their zeal, mistakes were made. The ax head was lost. But Elisha was there to show them that every problem can actually become an opportunity to encounter the faithfulness and power of God.

Here are three encouragements for the younger generation:

One: Desire the right thing. This story follows a heartbreak in Elisha’s life. The man he had been mentoring, Gehazi, chose money instead of God. Gehazi felt Elisha had missed an opportunity for material blessing after Naaman’s healing, so he went after Naaman to get the clothes and silver Elisha had ignored.

Gehazi thought the anointing was something to be used for personal gain. And while God let him keep the clothes and silver he wanted, he also received Naaman’s leprosy, which forced him away from the presence of Elisha from that day on.

Two: Ask the older generation to go with you. Even though they aren’t as “cool” or as fun as your peers, you need them. The wisdom and anointing of Elisha led to the success of the young prophets by the design of God. When you learn to honor, God ordains life and enduring success. (See Ephesians 6:1-3.)

Three: Ask for a double portion. Our ceiling can be your floor because of the grace of God. Forgiveness breaks the evil that comes down to you, while honor draws the good. When you go farther than we do, you honor our sacrifice. Your victory is our victory.

Reprinted by permission from Tom Flaherty’s weekly devotional to City Church, Madison, WI.

Who Is My Neighbor?

Who Is My Neighbor?

Who is my enemy?

Randal Rauser challenged attenders at the 2016 FCA Canadian Convention in Grande Prairie, Alberta with a number provocative questions.

The convention planners asked Rauser to speak to difficult societal issues faced by the church today. His first assignment: What would Jesus say to Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner? 

Rauser reminded the assembly that the church is the only organization that exists for the sake of its non-members.

However, we often see ourselves engaged in a “culture war.” Rauser pointed out that Jesus was not at war with the “out-group”—the poor, sinners, the disenfranchised. Rather, Jesus loved them—the woman at the well, the one caught in adultery, the disreputable sinner who washed his feet. The “out-group” sought Jesus because he showed them love.

Randal Rauser engages attenders at the 2016 Canadian FCA Convention.
Randal Rauser engages attenders at the 2016 Canadian FCA Convention.

Sharing personal stories of confronting his own hypocrisy, Rauser painted the tough questions with compassion and understanding. We’re quick to forgive our own trespasses but so slow to forgive the trespasses of others, he said.

Rauser, who presents four follow-up sessions on Thursday, explained that most of us make a distinction between sin and SIN. Lowercase sin is what we do—minor infractions so slight they are easily forgiven and quickly forgotten. Uppercase SIN, however, is the despicable, outrageous things that others do—the major sins, the “unforgivable” sins, the labels that stick for life.

So what did Jesus say? He spoke with compassion and understanding: “I love you.”

Rauser is Professor of Historical Theology at Taylor Seminary in Edmonton where he has taught since 2003. He is the author of several books including Is the Atheist My Neighbor? (Cascade, 2015).

Canadian Convergence 2016

Canadians Converge

“It’s not so hard to ‘confer,'” said Glen Breitkreuz, senior pastor at Christian Fellowship Assembly of Grande Prairie, Alberta. “It’s fairly easy to ‘confer,’ but it’s a lot harder to ‘converge.'”

Breitkreuz explained that is essentially the difference between a conference and a convergence. It’s the difference between conferring to share ideas and converging to form unity of purpose and establish a single-minded plan of action.

On a unseasonably warm day (over 30°C/87°F), pastors from across Canada converged on this northern city, about 460 km northwest of Edmonton. At their opening “envisioning” time, they gathered with a sense of urgency about the political climate of their country. And they recognized fresh opportunities to stand boldly for God.

With Canadian society trending away from biblical truth, they pledged their collective voice to uphold the truth of God’s Word.

Just as much, they pledged their hearts to express the grace of God’s love. The gathering begins Tuesday evening with an opening banquet and continues through Friday, May 6.

DSCF5804
Lead Elder Glen Forsberg encourages the ministers at the 2016 Canadian convention as Glen Breitkreuz looks on.
Matty Coppin, site pastor from The Father's House Christian Fellowship in Morinville, AB, summarizes his discussion group's views.
Matty Coppin, site pastor from The Father’s House Christian Fellowship in Morinville, AB, summarizes his discussion group’s views.
John Sprecher, lead elder from the U.S., talks over lunch with Mark Ost, long-term missionary in Paris, France.
John Sprecher, lead elder from the U.S., talks over lunch with Mark Ost, long-term missionary in Paris, France.