Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Is Our Church Too Big?

When is a local church too big?  In my travels I had a conversation with a man who told me that he likes attending a small church because those "bigger" churches made him feel like a number and he couldn't get to know people.

My question is this:  Should a church grow or should it seek to maintain a "manageable number?"

The longer this man talked, the more it became clear to me that he really didn't want the church where he attended to grow, and by his own speech, whether he knew it or not, he told me more in the five minutes we spoke than the number of years I've been in ministry.

Some people don't want their church to grow, because if it does they will seemingly "lose" control of their small pond and quite possibly they will no longer know everyone's business. 

Jesus wants every local church to grow!  Every local church is networked to "the church" of Jesus Christ and it is His will that growth, both numerical and spiritual, takes place.

I remember a preacher telling me one time that "God wanted his church to be small."  He felt that his church was one of the few remaining churches that was holding forth the standard of true holiness and therefore they represented a "remnant" that would not compromise.  I stood there thinking, "are you serious?"  

You really can't carry on a fruitful conversation with a person who is trapped in antiquity.  It's easy to hide behind the mask of small mindedness when you have no plan of action to facilitate strategy or systems for success. 

Ever run into those people that say, "The only reason that church across town is growing is because they've compromised!  They've got all that loud music, words on the screen and they even drink coffee!"  Honestly, it's all I can do to not just laugh out loud when I hear things like that.  As if technology and coffee beans are Satan's tools to "undo" the church and it's power.

I believe Jesus was the most amazing teacher and leader that ever lived.  His ways were innovative and His methods were beyond rational thought!
  • He tells Peter - "cast your net on the other side!"
  • Pete obeys and the catch is HUGE!
  • So large, he had to help to get it all in!
Notice this...Peter didn't just catch "a fish."  Nor did he only catch ten fish.  He caught a NUMBER OF FISH!

Does God want me to catch
large numbers of people? Yes!

Jesus told Peter to "follow Him and He would make him a fisher of men!"  WHY? 
  • Not so He could make him more disciplined.
  • Not so He could make him more holy.
  • Not so that He could make him a powerful scholar.
The reason is that Jesus wanted to make Peter
into a man that would lead others to Him.

Do you realize that the purpose of the church is NOT so we can:
  • Have our four and no more.
  • Prophecy gum drops and sugar plums on each other in the comfort of our "churchified clich├ęs."
  • Make comments like, "I want more worship...I want to go deeper...I want...I want...I want..."
Friend...following Jesus is NOT about what we want - but what God wants to do in and through each of us! 

Friend...if you've been saved - then church is no longer about YOU - getting your spiritual fix and weekly goose bump cannot continue to be our focus.

One of the reasons that some churches aren't growing is because we are more inward focused than outward focusedI've preached in that church.  There is more focus on what we do "in the house" that "out of the house."  Thus, we have too much time on our hands, twiddling our thumbs and conjuring up more rules, regulations and resolutions than actually focusing on people!

It's easier for people to get into Heaven than it is for people to get membership in some churches. 

We make up and cling to rules, regulations and laws that require acrobat skills and jungle gym contortion to navigate through in order to gain membership.  (I realize we must have guidelines...but what if those guidelines are so stringent and stale that they drain life instead of give life?)

Church is not about what we want but what He wants.  Jesus wants us to love God and love others - not just the "others" like us...but those far way from Him! 

In Luke 5 - the catch of fish was so big - I don't think this is coincidental! Jesus is into us reaching LARGE numbers of people!  He wants His church to reach the world! 

Is our local church too big?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Backslider

Ever dealt with a backslider?  If so, you know firsthand that you'll exhaust yourself trying to minister to them.

There is nothing more precious than seeing a person come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ!  There is a celebration in their soul and a celebration in Heaven...all at the same time!

However, when you deal with some who has turned their back on Jesus - you'll need every ounce of GRACE to penetrate their hard shell.  A lot of prayer and fasting is required to continue extending grace to someone that has denounced their faith in God.

Why do people backslide?  There are several reasons...
  • they feel God let them down;
  • they got their feelings hurt;
  • they become deceived by their own intellect and feel they have a better plan than God;
  • they won't receive instruction;
  • they feel like their missing out on the world;
  • etc...
You cannot get mad at them.  You must remain compassionate and loving in spite of how hard their heart may become.  Believe me...they'll resist you...if you trying beating them over the head with a 50 pound Bible. 

As a pastor, I've tried just about everything to keep people on the straight and narrow.  Gimmicks don't work.  If a person isn't 100% sold-out to Jesus - then you can't make them live for Him.

I've talked with people who feel they have a better plan than God.  They misinterpret the Scripture...they search the Bible to find a verse that will support their habit, lifestyle, laziness, etc...instead of searching the Word for TRUTH.

They can quote the Scripture...but their actions are far from the truth contained in the Word of God. 

It's one thing to know the Scripture...
it's quite another to LIVE IT every day.

If you listen to their reasoning long enough, and don't know the truth of God's Word for yourself, you might even be convinced that their right. 

There is no convincing some people.  That's why Paul said in...
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  That they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
They have rejected Christ and the Cross.
If they don't want "the Truth" God will allow them to "believe a lie."

If they continually refuse the truth of God's Word...eventually they'll become so deceived that they won't know the truth when it stares them in the face.  Another Christian may try to persuade them, a Pastor may try to reason with them, even the Word of God will try to penetrate them...but the BOTTOM LINE is that they must be OPEN to receive the truth.

It takes much wisdom in dealing with a backslider.  You may wonder "How am I going to awaken their soul?  How am I going to penetrate their backslidden heart?  How am I going to make this person go back to God?"  The truth...YOU CANNOT!

Only the Holy Spirit can perform this miracle.  The Holy Spirit can use you to open up the way for Him. 
  • Continue to pray and fast for that person who is backslidden.
  • Live a life of love in front of them.
  • Hold fast to the truth of God's Word and do not yoke up with their train of thought.
  • Remain sweet.
At the end of the day, they'll have to make a choice for themselves.  As blunt as this sounds...you must decide that you're not going to GO TO HELL WITH THEM - even though you love them or are married to them.  Don't give up on them...but don't go into the ditch with them. 

Each of us know if we're where we're supposed to be in our relationship with Jesus.  We can try to convince everyone that we're "hiding under a rock with God" or "God knows my heart" or "I don't believe you have to go to church" or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... (each excuse sounds the same as the next.  If you hear one...you've heard them all.)  The truth of the matter is that it's A HEART ISSUE.

Until the heart is fixed...the head will be full of delusion (2 Thessalonians 2:11). 
  • As a result the backslider will make up their own doctrine, misinterpret Scripture and have themselves convinced that their right. 
  • When that happens...they'll find fault in everything people do, everything the church is doing, etc. 
  • It's an attempt to cast conviction off of themselves by casting a shadow onto others. 
  • Thus, you'll hear a litany of excuses to try and mask the real reason for their backsliding.
But I hear my Bible saying to me....
  • If you walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
Stay in the LIGHT!
Cling to the TRUTH of God's Word!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thoughts about Sunday & BFWC

Hello BFWC Family! 

On Sunday we were blessed to meet more new families.  It's great to see how the Lord is adding to the church.  It's even more exciting to see our church GROWING SPIRITUALLY

We have some incredible people!  It's my heart to see our people ACHIEVING success in their lives!  It's excites me to see that happening!  Watching someone FIND the love of GOD and leave a life of sin is INCREDIBLE

I LOVE BFWC!  Nothing would thrill my heart more than to see our people:
  1. Grasp GRACE and understand what being a Christian truly is.
  2. Know who they are IN Christ.
  3. Embrace God's love and then SHARE that love with others in authentic relationships.
  4. Realize the importance of the CHURCH and be fully committed to it's success through active involvement.
Yes...I love BFWC!

Know what else I think?  I think every person at BFWC is called to be a LEADER! 

If you're going to be a DIE HARD...UNSTOPPABLE...NEVER GIVE UP...ALWAYS FAITHFUL...ALWAYS FRUITFUL...EXAMPLE of leadership...here's some things to consider:
  1. Submit to those over you in the Lord. 
    • If you can't follow orders...you're going to have a difficult time leading in the Kingdom. 
    • A good soldier will take orders from any commander - even if they have a personality conflict with that leader. 
    • Above all...you must respect the OFFICE of the leader over you.
  2. Own up to your frailties
    • Don't get jealous of other leaders and their gifts/talents/skills. 
    • Be true to your IDENTITY in Christ and you'll not fall into the mousetrap of insecurity.
  3. Cling to HOLINESS. 
    • Are you involved in secret sin? 
    • Do you have any addictions or habits that could cause others to stumble if they were found out? 
    • Paul said in Romans 12 to present your body a LIVING SACRIFICE - holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service. 
    • If you are a sacrifice you can't CRAWL back off the altar!
  4. Realize that it's about Him and not about you! 
    • If you are more concerned about your rights, gifts, talents and abilities...you'll become easily offended when you don't receive the credit or recognition. 
    • When it's about JESUS...you will use your gifts to PROMOTE HIS CHURCH not your particular "field of expertise" or personal preferences.
  5. Be willing to receive CORRECTION. 
    • Can you be corrected? 
    • Are you willing to allow others to speak into your life and point out areas that need to be corrected? 
    • If not, you won't last long in the ministry and you'll disintegrate before you ever reach your destiny.
  6. Quit complaining! 
    • No one wants to hear you constantly complain about how much you "do" for the Lord or how exhausted you are. 
    • GROW UP! 
    • We all work hard and we all knew the cost before we picked up the cross. 
    • Get with the program and quit blaming others for your shortcomings.
    • ("I can't believe Pastor said that...man...that's rude!  Did he just say that...?" YEP I SAID IT.) 
    • You think you're the only one working hard? 
    • Do what you're called to do and draw strength from the one who called you.
  7. He's God and I'm not! 
    • Remember who this is really about.
  8. Do your best 24/7. 
    • The ministry requires 100% - 100% of the time! 
    • When did you become Mr. Big Britches and no longer have to keep your word, follow through on your commitments or become sloppy with the gospel? 
    • Is God pleased with half-heartedness and clammy commitment? 
    • NO. 
    • Give your best! :-)
  9. Take inventory. 
    • Would your family & friends say you're a good example of what a leader should be?

Who's ready?

Pastor Hylton

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bring It On!

If you're going to survive in ministry today...you better be ready to pay an EMOTIONAL PRICE!

I promise you...no matter how pure your motives...no matter how effective your work...your leadership will be opposed sooner or later.

What are you going to do?  QUIT?

Absolutely not!

Did Jesus quit?  Remember in Mark 3:1-6 when Jesus determined to heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath?  He first had to deal with the RELIGIOUS people (Pharisees) who were just "waiting" to try to trap Him.

Jesus tells the man with the withered hand to STAND UP! He tells him to stand up right in the middle of those vipers! (Religious spirits - cantankerous, rusty, crusty, dusty, musty attitudes)

Then Jesus looks the Pharisees in the eye and asks them "is it lawful to do good on the sabbath day, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?"

He then gets ANGRY and stares them down!

He looks back at the man with the withered hand and says "STRETCH FORTH THINE HAND!"  and PRESTO - a miracle!

In verse 6, the Pharisees (like church people you've met before) went forth, and begin to look for ways (along with the Herodians - sidekicks AKA disgruntled) on how they might DESTROY Jesus.

Isn't that something?  You're just trying to do a work for the Lord and HERE COMES AN ATTACK!  I mean...it would almost be easier to accept the attack if it was coming from the outside...but within the church?

Ever been there?  Sister Hoopindiddle looks over her glasses funny at you and all the sudden you shriek in fear of not pleasing her...Brother Hurricane gives you a whiff of his bad breath as he tries to "blow" your house in...

I was raised in ministry - I've seen the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY (and that's just the people...smile). What I've come to realize is that few people are able to handle an attack that is unwarranted.

Pastor, leader, Christian worker...YOU WILL BE ATTACKED regardless of how good, effective or benevolent you are!

The attack will come in three ways:
  1. Intimidation
  2. Manipulation
  3. Domination
What do you do?  Do you put on your boxing gloves and go around giving people a holy poke in the nose?  Do you facebook mean things about them? 


Here's five ways you can face the attacker head on!
  1. Don't fight fire with fire! - if you express resistance it will increase their control.
  2. Figure out where the attack is coming from! - are you being attacked because of someone's insecurity, past hurt or ill feelings?
  3. Focus on the facts! - Don't go down rabbit trails...you'll get nowhere.  Bring the conversation to the same page.
  4. Clean out your ears! - in other words...listen!  Find a way to agree & affirm what they are saying by validating them.
  5. Find a better way! - is there an alternative solution?  Give room for the Holy Spirit to bring a new way to see things.
Walk in love!

Pastor Hylton

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

9 Things I Want To Share

If God is your #1 priority then your actions & time management will reflect it. He wants more than your tithes...He wants YOU!

If you don't deal with your mess at home...you'll bring that mess into the church. Strong men build strong homes. Strong homes build strong churches.  Strong churches build strong communities.  Strong communities build strong cities, etc.

When you are submitted to the Holy Ghost it's not hard to submit to others...including your spouse, boss, pastor, parents & more.

Penny Hill

1963-2011 (Age 48)

As the news came to me yesterday of your death.  It occurred to me, as the tears came from my eyes, how much you meant to me.  I wished for one more chance to speak with you, hug your neck and tell you how special you were.

My childhood memories are filled with happy times we shared. Like the time you let me steer while you rode me on your motorcycle.  I remember when we wrecked in the back yard and you just picked us both up and we kept on riding.

I remember you taking Venita and I swimming, shopping and giving us our own 16oz glass bottle of Pepsi, as if we were grown.

You were a great babysitter!  You looked for ways to have fun and even told my parents how good I had been even when I acted contrary.

I remember when you moved to the house next to ours and I bugged you to know end by continually wanting to come over and play Foosball, watch TV and eat all your food.

You loved to talk...and listening to your funny stories and hearing your laugh made me feel at home.

You were one of the most caring people I knew.  You believed the best in others.  You persevered through the pain and you NEVER gave up.

I remember hearing you speak about how much you desired for your children to know the Lord and to live for Him.  You made continual efforts to see them attend summer youth camps.  Your kids were dear to your heart and God will hold them in His arms today.

You never claimed to be perfect.  In fact, it was through your struggles that you gained a better perspective of God's grace in your life and how to extend grace to others. 

I witnessed how you dealt with the pain that life can bring with determination and resolve.

If anyone could testify of God's love...you could.  You had experienced His unconditional love in your life.  It is that love that is holding you now.

I wish you weren't gone.  It's almost unreal. But my heart tells me that you'll always be with me and in time our family will heal.

You are now free from pain,
in a land where children never grow old and roses never fade.

I will see you again in that perfect place above,
and together we will enjoy God's never ending love.

I won't question the sovereign hand of God, or His choice to take you now.

I will continue to believe His ways are best and find courage in this...somehow.

I don't need to understand or know the reason why.
I'm trusting God, that in exchange for this heartache, I will find peace in abundant supply.

Peace comes from knowing that Jesus Himself faced trials too,
And yet He overcame pain and sorrow to prove His love so true.

Death could not hold Him down and the grave could not prevail.
He rose above it all and His promise to us will not fail.

He is here with us now, to comfort, strengthen and guide.
I choose to trust His Word and in Him alone abide.

When He cannot seemed to be traced,
even in death we can trust His grace.

So I'll keep walking and yielding to His control,
and He'll keep working things out...for the good of my soul.

I truly do not understand....but I know somehow...
even this is part of His plan.

Penny...you remain in our heart and we will speak of you, not in tears, but with laughter and joy as if you are still here.  There were many things I'm sure we wish we could have said but to live in regret is not what you would want.  We will see you again at the big reunion in Heaven!

Thank you for being you!

Your cousin,