Out of Weakness Made Strong

I believe that you will enjoy this guest post by Dr. Jim Townsley.  He has promoted church planting for years.  He has also trained and helped church planters.  The article below is timely and will be very helpful.  Read it and pass it along to others.

If you have interest in or would like more information about church planting, click on the link at the end of his article

Lonnie Mattingly – John 15:8

Out of Weakness Made Strong

Pastor Jim Townsley – The  Church Planting Helper – Help Line 860-620-7404

    From time to time illness effects us all. A cold, the flu, or an injury is an unpleasant part of life that must be faced. However, it is my observation that unusual sicknesses and physical problems plague new church planters and their families. It seems Satan uses his greatest force against God’s best servants and illness is one of the means he uses to hinder the work of God.

Scripture contains examples of godly men and women afflicted by the devil himself. Satan brought a severe injury and illness to Job. Paul had his thorn in the flesh, which seemed to be a physical affliction. Timothy frequently faced illnesses and infirmities as Paul relates to us in his writings. It may be of no consolation that others in the Bible faced sickness, but these examples were given in Scripture to remind us that God can use us in spite of infirmities. When illness strikes you or your family recognize that God has a plan to use this trial for His glory. Consider some of the possible reasons God uses illnesses in our lives:

  1. Illness slows us down and causes us to reflect upon on God’s purpose in our ministry.
  2. Sickness humbles us and reminds us of our mortality and our need for God’s help.
  3. Physical trials give God an opportunity to show Himself strong and able to meet our needs.
  4. Weaknesses bring us to our knees in prayer.
  5. Injuries lead us to live a life of faith rather than sight.

I am certain there are many lessons that cannot be listed in this brief article, but they are special to you and your circumstances. How should you handle sickness and suffering when it comes? First of all, continue in the calling God has given you. When trials are severe there is a temptation to quit. Our own pain or the suffering of our family may cloud our ability to think clearly. This urge must be resisted no matter how difficult the circumstances may be. Satan will be pleased to know he has immobilized a Christian servant.

In Hebrews chapter eleven several men and women are recognized as having great faith. The amazing aspect of their is that they had faith during great trials and affliction. The greater the affliction and trial the more glory God receives. “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto

Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” – Zec. 4:6

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is history’s most widely read preacher. Spurgeon suffered ill health toward the end of his life, afflicted by a combination of rheumatism, gout and Bright’s disease. Today, more material is available by Spurgeon than by any other Christian author, living or dead. The famous missionary David Livingstone once asked him, “How do you manage to do two men’s work in a single day?”

Spurgeon replied, “You have forgotten that there are two of us and the one you see the least does the most.” Susannah, Spurgeon’s wife, became an invalid at age thirty-three and could seldom leave her bedchamber. Yet, she became the woman who found solace in suffering by ministering to the needs of others. Through her efforts poor preachers received books and materials free of charge to aid them in their preaching.             When sickness comes the church planter is forced to re-evaluate his activities to accommodate the situation. These changes may not always fit into the mold for successful church planting. It may seem the church the new church will grow without his intense labor. But if he is doing all that he can physically do, then God is able to step in and do what he cannot do. After all isn’t God who gives the increase?

God does work all things for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Many a preacher can look back at life’s trials and say he would never have chosen this difficult path. However, recognizing the leading of God through it all and realizing how much profit he has received by it, he would never change the path of God’s leading.

With a Heart for God,

Jim Townsley

If you find this email helpful pass it on to another preacher.

Previous articles are archived at:

http://www.centralbaptistchurch.net/ministries/church-planting/

Advertisements

WHY AN INVITATION?

INVITATION – ALTAR CALL???I am copying and promoting a post from my friend Dr. James Rasbeary.  Bro. Rasbeary pastors the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Wylie, Texas.  He is a church planter and an articulate defender of the fundamentals of the faith.  On his web site there are many helpful tools for those who would serve our Saviour.

The following article, “Why Have A Church Invitation?” is much needed.  In my travels I have found that the public invitation in many churches is one of the least thought through times of the service.  In fact at times I find it to be a weak afterthought.

As folks arrive at church, I believe that the invitation begins with the sign out front and the greeters on the parking lot.  Every ministry should be working toward a positive response to the invitation given inviting folks to respond to the Gospel message.

Of course we must be Holy Spirit led and He must work in the lives of those we would see saved.  At the same time, I believe we should be the cleanest, most prepared, believing, trained instruments we can be.

You can follow his good work at www.broraz.com. I also recommend you follow him on twitter @JamesRasbeary.

Article: Why Have A Church Invitation?

Posted on April 16, 2013 by James Rasbeary

As stated in our last article, “Why Have A Sunday Night Service,” there are two types of traditions in the New Testament:

  1. Traditions that keep men from the truth of God’s Word. These traditions are to be avoided (Gal. 1:14; Matthew 15:3; etc).
  2. Traditions that keep men in the truth of God’s Word. These traditions are to be advanced (2 Thess 2:15; 3:6).

The problem is that we sometimes forget WHY some traditions were started in the first place, and what purpose they serve. Today, many short-sighted men are selling sound traditions at garage sale prices. Like Samson when he tossed aside the jawbone of the donkey, they think that these have served their purpose and are no longer needed (see Judges 15:14-19). Little do they realize that there is still a great deal of potential in some of those old “jawbones.” When thirsty Samson returned to that old castaway jawbone, he found life-sustaining water sent directly from God.

Many in our Baptist churches do not know why we do some things that we do. In recent days I have been more conscious of the need to EXPLAIN some of the why’s of Baptist church life. This is especially important for new members and new converts, many of whom have no church background (I can relate, having never stepped into a church until I was 15 years old).

A distinctive mark of traditional Baptist church services has been the “invitation” or “altar call.” The purpose of this invitational time was primarily to see the unsaved come to Christ. It is also the time in which many present themselves for baptism, church membership, or other public decisions, or simply to take a moment to pray. Many a prodigal has “hit the aisle” under Holy Ghost conviction to get things right with God. Many Baptist churches had “mourner’s benches” of some type or another where people would pray; most churches now use the platform steps as a place to kneel. The fact that many modern Baptists go to church to “worship God” without ever bowing their knees before Him publicly (Ps. 96:6) should give us pause for consideration (obvious health restrictions noted).

The enemies of evangelism have always mocked the “invitation” and continue to do so. Upon examination, such almost always have a perverted gospel in which people cannot really get saved simply and immediately in a church service. Upon further examination, you will find that such rarely, if ever, see anyone saved or baptized, and no wonder.

Allow me to give you ten thoughts to consider concerning church invitations:

  1. A church invitation is in line with our scriptural obligation to invite sinners to “Come.”  Revelation 22:17 –  “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The Holy Spirit does not say, “Wait.” He says to the sinner, “Come.” The church is told to say, “Come.” This is an invitation! If someone is sitting there thirsty for the water of life, let him “come!” If someone wants to be saved NOW, tell him to “Come… take the water of life freely.”
  2. A church invitation is in line with God’s invitation for sinners to comeNOW.  Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Are you sinful? Come NOW. Are your sins red like crimson? Come NOW. God’s invitation is urgent and immediate – something to take care of TODAY – 2 Corinthians 6:2 “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”
  3. A church invitation impresses the lost with the urgency of salvation. James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Someone sitting in the church auditorium Sunday may not live to the next Sunday. At least give him an opportunity to get it settled before he leaves the building.
  4. It is obvious that some sort of invitation was given on Pentecost.  Acts 2:37-38 “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? (38) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” These men wanted to get the issue settled then. Peter told them what to do, and to do it NOW. And they did. Acts 2:41 “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” How did this happen? How did 3000 souls receive the word? How did these 3000 souls get baptized without “coming forward” to do so? There were tens of thousands of people present on Pentecost. Many heard Peter’s message; some separated from the crowds to make an IMMEDIATE DECISION. Is this really so different than what happens on a smaller scale in many Baptist churches all across America every Sunday, when the preacher preaches the gospel and some sinner comes forward, in essence saying, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
  5. A church invitation puts the lost person “on the spot” and demands an immediate decision. At the very least, an impression is made.
  6. A church invitation is not the only way that sinners can come to Christ, but it is a way. Many churches have gone wrong in thinking that the only time sinners can be saved is during a church service at the invitation time. This is entirely unscriptural. Others think that people can’t possibly get saved in a church service but must be dealt with for hours or even several days at home. This is also unscriptural. A church invitation is one more method we have of winning souls to Christ – but it is notthe only way. Many times I have seen people raise their hands, but were unwilling to come forward. In talking to them privately, I found that they earnestly wanted to be saved but were afraid. Others have come forward and been saved during the service. The important thing is that people have an opportunity – whether the invitation is given in church or outside of church.
  7. A church invitation allows us to deal with people while they are obviouslyunder Holy Spirit conviction. In other words, strike while the iron is hot.
  8. A church invitation must be worked carefully and properly. My father, at age 16, walked forward in a Baptist church during a revival and was taken immediately back and baptized, without ever showing him a verse of the Bible. He went another 30 years on a false belief that he was saved because they told him that he was, and he had been baptized. Thank God, he is saved now. Every church needs well-trained soul-winners as altar workers – there and ready to help people immediately when they come forward. Each person needs to be dealt with individually. I believe it is dangerous to have 1 person trying to deal with groups of people, especially children. It is not hard to understand salvation, but we must be careful to present it clearly and concisely.
  9. A church invitation is also an opportunity for Christians to respond immediately to the message preached.
  10. A church invitation has proven itself in most, if not all, of the great soul-winning Baptist churches for several generations. Whether some like it or not, people respond to them and get saved.

Many make fun of church invitations. They laugh at “every head bowed, every eye closed,” etc. Yet many of them were saved directly or indirectly through a church invitation. They or their parents or someone likely responded to an invitation at some point. I’ll take the old-fashioned, scriptural invitation. It’s not the only method we use to reach the lost, but it is one we use, and will continue to use.

Thank you for taking the time to read this somewhat lengthy article. Much more could be said. Please, if you are going to preach the gospel, give an invitation – whether you present the gospel to 1000 in an auditorium, or to 1 on their door step. Give people the opportunity to “come now.” God bless.

STANDARDS FOR WORKERS

Every Church I know of has some standards of appropriate behavior, morality, modesty and interaction with others.  I have posted on twitter before something like, “Anyone with higher standards than mine is a LEGALIST.  Anyone with lower standards than mine is a COMPROMISER.” I’m sure that not everyone agrees with me on every standard that I implemented at Shawnee Baptist Church when I was pastor.  Of course they have a rightto be wrong …  :^)  

I believe that every church has a responsibility to hold people in leadership positions to a Biblical standard.  After all, they are not just teaching for one hour on Sunday.  They are a representative of the church and the Lord at all times.  The “Guidelines and Standards” I have listed below are a good outline to get started.  None of us are perfect but we should be expected to live by Biblical principals.

One quick illustration and then the list.  What a shame it would be for a child to see a church member staggering out of a bar on Saturday evening and then on Sunday have that church member as a Sunday School Teacher, see them singing in the choir or leading the church in prayer.

_____________________________________________________

GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS FOR CHURCH LEADERS                        2Corinthians 5:20  “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God                 did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

Let’s never forget that we are Ambassadors for our families, our employers, our church, our country, etc.  But the area that carries the greatest weight of responsibility is that of being an Ambassador for Christ.  That is not the preacher’s tool to keep us in subjection.  It is rather a divine appointment from the King of the universe, our sovereign God.

1. God has given us a ministry… the ministry of reconciliation.

2. God has given us the tool to perform the ministry… the Word of reconciliation.

3. God has given us an office… the office of Ambassadors.

Christians that have decided to count for Christ must also be willing or even desirous to live for Him.  We don’t have to have standards, we get to have standards.  The major benefit of submission to God and his Word is our availability to God that results in fullness of the Holy Spirit.  4. God offers us a power…. the power of the Holy Spirit working through us.

Things every worker for Christ should seriously consider:

1. ___-You must have a testimony of the new birth.

2. ___-You must be Scripturally baptized and in good standing.

3. ___-You must faithfully attend all events of your church that pertain to you unless hindered by circumstances beyond your control.

4.___ -You must be loyal to the church program, the pastor and staff, fellow workers, and most importantly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

5.___- You must be in agreement with Bible based doctrines of your church.

6.___- You must be in agreement and involved in reaching the lost.

7.___- You must view your service as a God assigned ministry.  It will be difficult to continue in tough times with anything less.

8.___- You must be separate from the world (including but not limited to entertainment, attire, habits, friendships, etc).

9.___- You must always represent your Lord and your church in the most appropriate and Scriptural manner.

1Co 14:40  “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

Let me conclude by saying that having standards in your life makes God love you more.  It does send a message to God that you are available and yielded.  If you want to have God’s power in your life then allow Him to be Lord of your life.  Be available.  The best ability is availability.  Luke 6:46 “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

A MARRIAGE QUIZ

Just below is a brief quiz I ran across that I like to give at couples retreats and conferences.  I think it is best for the Husband and Wife to sit down and each give an answer to to the questions one at a time.  I have often administered it to a group where the Husband and Wife both fill out their form.  Then I like to give them time to talk over the areas where they agree that they fall short and then to honestly and with a good spirit talk about the areas where their evaluation differs.  The goal is to honestly communicate with each other and discover areas where they were oblivious to their spouse’s difference of opinion.  Then they can discuss how to come together and improve their understanding of the other’s needs and incorporate some things that will strengthen their marriage.

Perhaps this will be a help to some couples that read this blog and to some pastors who are counseling couples.  May the dear Lord strengthen our homes with solid marriages.  I believe where there is life there is hope.

For Christ and for Souls,

Lonnie Mattingly – John 15:8

“ Is Your Marriage What You, Your Mate, And The Lord Want It To Be ? “

           Love,   Something everybody talks about.   Something everybody wants to be in on.  The majority of couples fail to find fulfillment in their marriage.  It is predicted that Two-Thirds of all marriages will end in divorce.  About Two million parents each year learn that their unmarried daughter is pregnant.  To cover this up One and One-half million babies are aborted.  One reason for this tragedy is that parents fail to give their children a healthy marriage role model.

In the following quiz you should be able to answer “yes” to all the questions.  If you cannot, there will be a need to give attention to the areas of failure.

1. IS YOUR MATE YOUR BEST FRIEND ?                                          YES____ NO____

2. ARE YOU AND YOUR MATE GOOD CONVERSATIONALISTS ? YES ____NO ____

3. DO YOU AVOID CITICIZING YOUR MATE ?                                    YES____ NO____

 4. WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO DIE FOR YOUR MATE?                YES____ NO____

5. DO YOU ATTEND CHURCH WITH YOUR MATE?                           YES____NO____

6. DO YOU HAVE THE SAME PURPOSE IN LIFE ?                             YES____NO____

7. ARE YOU GROWING  SPIRITUALLY ?                                              YES____NO____

8. DO  YOU AGREE ON EARNING, SAVING, INVESTMENT,                           SPENDING AND GIVING MONEY?                                                       YES____NO____

9. DO YOU HAVE THE SAME CIRCLE OF FRIENDS ?                        YES____NO____

10. DO YOU ALWAYS STAND UP FOR YOUR  MATE ?                       YES____NO____           

11. ARE  YOU IN SEXUAL HARMONY ?                                                YES____NO____

12. ARE YOU IN HARMONY IN RAISING YOUR KIDS ?                      YES____NO____

13. DO YOU RESPECT EACH OTHER’S INDIVIDUALITY ?                YES____NO____

14. DO YOU SHOW YOUR MATE ENOUGH AFFECTION ?                YES____NO____

15. DO YOU AND YOUR MATE HAVE DEVOTIONS TOGETHER?    YES____NO____

16. DO YOU GO ON DATES ?                                                                 YES____NO____

 17. DO YOU PLAN VACATIONS BOTH WILL ENJOY ?                       YES____NO____

18. DOES YOUR MATE POSSESS ALL OF YOU ?                               YES____NO____

19. IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP GROWING                                              YES____NO____

20. DO YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT YOUR MATE ?                            YES____NO____

START & GROW A CLASS

Here we are at the beginning of a new year.  Christianity and especially Fundamental Independent Baptists have come under attack.  May I remind you that we should not be surprised when the Lord warned us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”: (1Pe 5:8)

Someone told me the best defense is a good offense.  If were not careful we will be so busy defending ourselves that we will forget to do the work God left us here to do.  I want to challenge you to reach the middle class adults in your area.  One of the greatest ways to do so is to start new classes.  New units grow faster than established units.  The Sunday School is the church organized.  Properly organized and administered the Sunday School will help close the back door and keep new folks coming in the front door.

In my years at Shawnee Baptist I tried to personally start a new class about every two to three years.  It was hard to leave a class I had built.  But, the joy of training new teachers and helping them succeed was worth it.  I developed a couple of check lists over the years  of things that helped me start a class and then build a class after it was started.  I have read many other helps.  The lists below are by no means exhaustive (maybe exhausting).  If you have an existing class you may find some helpful ideas that will trigger some new growth methods for you.

HOW TO START AN ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS

1. Pray for the leadership of the Holy Spirit

2. Select a name for your new class

3. Determine the profile of your class (age, status, area, etc.)

4. Scan the church roll for prospects… Anyone on the church roll who is not enrolled in      Sunday School is a potential prospect.

5. Survey visitors for prospects

6. Set a date for your grand opening

7. Determine the location and arrangements

8. Plan the organization … Start with an assistant if possible (ushers, greeters, secretary, set up, song leader, etc)

9. Decide not to steal from other established classes Instead pray for laborers

10. Build a mailing data base and write letters introducing your new class

11. Organize your class schedule

12. Organize your class records

13. Organize your follow-up procedures… (call, write, visit)

14. Make directional signs to your class… Goal: Be the easiest class to find without being obnoxious or appearing competitive.

15. Make class calling cards or brochures

16. Gather and organize all class tools and materials

HOW TO GROW AN ADULT CLASS ONCE STARTED

1. Scan the crowd 3 times a week looking for prospects (meet every visitor)

2. Visit faithfully (visit every absentee the first time they are absent)

3.  Enroll new people every week

4. Have a goal of at least one lost person in attendance each week

5. Network with existing soul winning programs and outreach people to find more new prospects

6. Keep excellent records

7. Copy your roll book and prospect list as your Sunday School prayer list.

8. Promote the Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services goal: to build your members

9. Build loyalty to the pastor and church in the hearts and minds of your members

10. Set the right example in personal standards and faithfulness

11. Plan some activities (one major activity per quarter and minor monthly) By planning around church services and campaigns you help tie your people to the overall program of the church and build unity

12. Activities can be fun, convenient and inexpensive:

Sun PM pie & ice cream

Sun afternoon picnic – and games

Sundae Sunday night

Video presentation (approved of course)

Work party (paint your class, work on grounds, adopt a flower bed, etc)

Nursing home outing or sponsorship

Use your imagination … there are hundreds of ideas that will build your class without                                      breaking the bank.

13. Establish a class Soul Winning time…

14. Have a goal of winning Soul Winners – 2 Tim 2:2

May this be a great year of Spiritual and Numerical growth in our Sunday Schools.