By David Elms
It is easy for a pastor to become a hewer of wood and a carrier of water. He can become so busy doing things that he neglects the most important priorities of his ministry. People are more important than machines or methods. To love people, to reach them, is vital.
In establishing our priorities, we must determine where our source of power lies, and that is in God. God must be first. Our responsibilities must also be determined. They must all be taken care of without clashing. For instance, our communion with God, and the church work, our own families and our own bodies, all demand our attention. God not only wants us to be good preachers, He also tells us to be good fathers. Our lives are made up of time and all of these differing responsibilities have to fit into our schedules.
A minister does not have time to waste or throw away. A certain amount of recreation is essential, but we should not waste our time on things that do not profit. A minister should keep a certain amount of time, every week, for his family and not let anything, except an absolute emergency, interfere with it. He needs to keep current and close fellowship with his wife, for her well being, as well as his own. Time spent in maintaining happiness in the home is well spent.
Rev. David F. Gray was born to missionary parents in Yokohama, Japan. They went to Japan in 1914 and again from 1935 until 1940, doing the work of the Lord. Brother Gray was evangelizing in Canada when the Lord laid the burden for San Diego on his heart. Plans were made, and the first services were held in 1945. Since that time, Revival Tabernacle has been a lighthouse to many wayward souls, who have darkened its doors. The church presently sits high on a hill called Pentecost Park, which is located at the end of a street called, Pentecost Way.
Through the years, Revival Tabernacle has been consistently reaching out, beyond its four walls, to bring the lost to Jesus. Present outreach ministries include; Street-meetings, outdoor park services, convalescent home services, Honor camp ministry, Door to door visitation, follow-up visitation, Youth outreach, Bus Ministry and Home Bible Studies.
“I feel that if people just talk about wanting a large church, their motives may be wrong,” indicated Rev. Gray. “The emphasis should be on reaching the lost. Our motivation must be the lost. If we always keep our motivation right, we will grow. As we grow from 50 to 200, 800, 1500, or 3000, our foundation will be strong if our motives have been kept pure. When we really love people, we will grow. Having a church grow, and getting people ready for the rapture are not necessarily the same thing. It is not the idea of just having a crowd or a gathering of people, but we are concerned about having a people ready for heaven.”
“There are some churches, even large ones, that are not very spiritual or on fire for God. After folks are saved, it is important that they get involved, stay spiritual and live overcoming lives. One essential job of the ministry is to involve people in doing something for the Kingdom of God. The standards of God’s Word must be measured up to, and there is a price to pay to conquer the world, the flesh and the devil. We are challenged to give our best to the Lord. The way, to being our best, starts with pure motives and giving our all to the cause of reaching the world with the message of Truth,” states Rev. Gray.
The highest calling in the world is that of the ministry. Brother Gray’s father once made the statement concerning his son, “I do not want my son to ever shrivel up to be a king.” With every place of service that the Lord offers comes a larger responsibility with it. The Scripture teaches us “to obey them that have the rule over you…as they that must give account.” We will have to give an account of those who are in our churches. And we will also account for the way we have led them or failed to do so.
The parable of the talents, teaches this same principle. The greater we are used of God, the more responsibility is required from us. With our awesome duties come the tremendous joys of being in His divine will. We are wrapping up what Jesus started in the Apostles and we are responsible for finishing the task. It is a great and exciting work that God has placed us in and we could waste our energies and talents on foolish things, when the whole world is dying for what we have. We could congratulate ourselves and say we are doing a wonderful job, and all the time, we are not doing our best. Good is the enemy of the best. Our calling is so great that we dare not give anything less than our best.
A Leader of Leaders
A pastor must be a trainer of men and a leader of leaders. Much of his time should be spent in training others. He must emphasize the development of character in the men he is training. By this, his ministry is increased greatly. Preaching to the people and feeding the flock are essentials as well as the training of workers by putting them into places of responsibility.
Bible colleges are good and provide a very needed service to many. However, the best method for a person to learn the operations of a church and practical leadership is for him to be under a successful pastor who can counsel him closely. Many graduates of Bible colleges still lack practical training and find that by working with a minister, they can gain necessary experience. All of the department leaders within a church should be taught the principles of leadership. A minister can spend his time wishing that a mature saint would move in and help him instead of developing and educating those whom God has already given him. The teaching of leadership will require discipline on the part of the minister, but the benefits derived outweigh all of the hardships.
Not Slothful in Business
There should never be responsibility given to anyone without there also being a time of accountability. Everybody should give an accounting of the tasks they have been asked to accomplish. This same principle should be honored in every job or ministry of the church. Some churches have a lot of people with titles around, but not much getting done. There must be a time and place to give account of stewardship. A church should be operated in an orderly and business-like fashion. Not cold and hard or cut and dried, but, everyone should know that we are not just playing around and doing slip-shod jobs for Jesus. No one should be able to sit down on the job and think that they can get by with it. The Lord has always wanted our best. He gave his best to us.
In order for all of the departments of the church to work together harmoniously, there must be times of planning as a team. All of the different activities must be inter-related to avoid departments pulling in opposite directions at the same time. Departments that are experiencing difficulties can benefit from the experience and knowledge of all the heads of other departments.
The finances of the church are to be open and above board. The pastor’s authority should supersede any and all committees, by reason of his life and ministry. He is the ambassador of Jesus Christ to that people. The tithes are for the support of the ministry and he is responsible to the Lord for his stewardship. The church books, which record offerings and expenses, should be kept in a business-like fashion and be open to the church members. The books which record each individuals giving should be kept confidential, their main purpose being to verify donations claimed on
Federal Income Tax returns. The people should know where their offerings go and be aware of the financial situation of the church. The proper handling of this end of the work of God will give the people confidence in the leadership of the church. When the time comes to borrow money from a bank, the church which has not been slothful, in the keeping of records and other related business practices, will be much more acceptable.
God has raised many men of faith and experience up in these last days to be of assistance to the church in special ways. Rev. David Wolf, pastor of the First Pentecostal Church in Pittsburgh, Penn. has been a blessing to many churches desiring to increase their attendance through bussing. “Rev. Wolf came to minister to us at a time when we needed help with our Bus Ministry and was a great blessing to us. We needed to evaluate our methods and also needed our faith built. We had seen other churches expand their outreach greatly through bussing but did not think that we could. Bro. Wolf was a tremendous blessing to us in this way, to increase our faith and to make our methods more efficient. I believe there is a definite place in the program of God for these ministries and He is using many men to fill these needed areas of service,” declares Bro. Gray.
“Churches need to be inspired to move ahead in areas of outreach and ministering to their communities. There is nothing wrong in allowing other churches to set examples for us to follow. When we see them doing more for God, it should increase our faith, to believe God, that we can do more for God than we ever have before.”
One should never quit learning but be willing to take teaching from others. The Lord requires us to continually add to what we have already. We can never allow ourselves to revel in the thought that we have attained, but with Paul, continue to “press toward the mark.”
One of the most dangerous and depressing places for leaders to find themselves, is to have attained all of their goals, before developing a new set of goals. Many people have an unconscious aversion to asking questions of more experienced and successful leaders. To humble ourselves and become students of those who have gained answers to problems and learn from one
another, the less stumbling over our own mistakes and learning by hard knocks, we will have to endure.
When asked what approach he would take if he became the pastor of a church which had three solid families in it and averaged about 50 in Sunday School, Rev. Gray responded, “There is no way that I could build a church by myself. We would begin by endeavoring to get the people off of dead center, firing them up and getting them moving for God. One of the first things would be to deal with the people along the lines of faith. I would seek God for messages of faith and challenge the people to believe God for miracles. I would call on them to meet God’s conditions in order to be
ready to receive His favor. I believe the people can get into the area of spiritual development where they are filled with faith and confidence in what God is going to do for them. Sacrifice is a part of doing anything for the Lord and they must be willing to pay the price.”
“So one of my main objectives, would be to get the people on fire for God,” declares Bro. Gray, “to the point, of making themselves available for soulwinning. If I couldn’t get them to move, then I would go ahead and start alone. The bus ministry is a good way to reach children as well as their parents.”
“One of the best methods,” continues Brother Gray, “to reach new families is through home Bible studies. We love children and would be working with them but our priority would be the parents of the children.” It takes the strength of adults to effectively handle a large children’s outreach. Home Bible studies are taught to people who have an interest in the Word of God and as the scriptures are expounded, many people will respond to God. It is not good to get so involved with the children, that, there is no effort made to reach their parents also. For a church to grow, there must be a consistent winning of adults.”
On Fire for God
“I would strive to pull a new consecration out of the people and preach a new dedication into them,” states Pastor Gray. “Initially, I would not push them to do something but would challenge them to seek after a renewal of the Holy Ghost. As the spiritual temperature of the church began to rise there would be a percentage of them who would be ready for action. A revival would have to take place, especially if the folks had settled down to a stagnant condition. If for carnal reasons, they refused to get revived and to stir up the gift of God within them, then I would be seeking God for
directions on whether I should stay or go.”
Seven Keys to Revival
There must be a constant emphasis on (1) soulwinning. It is not a subject that a pastor can mention a few times and hope that it will take care of itself. It must be preached by the ministry from the Bible and also by example. To properly motivate the people to reach out for the lost, the pastor himself must be reaching out for them and manifesting a real love for them. There must be a consistent (2) burden and concern for the work of God. The sounds of people at (3) prayer must be continually heard at church. People should understand the value and necessity of (4) sacrificial
fasting. A desire to know the Lord in the fellowship of His sufferings is to be cherished. These important things will raise the spiritual temperature of the whole church and should be considered normal for all.
Folks have to stay ‘fired up’ for the Lord (5), not cold or lukewarm, but on fire. There also needs to be a (6) freedom of worship in services with the people ready to respond to the moving of the Spirit of God. Last but not least, (7) powerful services are an absolute necessity. There is no way to have them, unless, the people are what they should be in God. Once the church is headed in the right direction, toward revival, then a momentum will develop. The people must realize that for them to be great soulwinners is not beyond them. As they, by faith, get hold of a ‘can-do’ attitude, the hindrance of fear will be overcome and the church will move ahead with great power.”
Fired Up Services
If there is anything we need to avoid in Pentecost, it is getting stale, and old, and in a rut of doing things in the same old way, week after week and year after year. Our services must emphasize the moving of the Holy Ghost, prayer, consecration, and the operation of the Spirit. We are not to just have a service and dismiss. There must be a spiritual moving in every service. The people should be challenged to greater things and learn to entertain the presence of the Lord. The beautiful flow of the Holy Ghost is to be sought after, each time we meet together. The saints are to be moving toward God and reaching for more of His direction in their lives.
When the Lord does work in an exceptional way, don’t let it slip by unnoticed but capitalize on it. It ought to excite the people. Let it build their faith to believe God for more. When people begin to see the results of their consecration and outreach, it will inspire them to continue. If we will have the proper consecration and the spiritual services, people will be coming to the Lord all the time.”
Hindrances To Growth
“If we are not careful,” continues Pastor Gray,” a lackadaisical attitude can attach itself to us and we will get the feeling that we are doing the best we can, when, in reality, we could be doing much more. The feeling that ‘God understands and it is up to Him now, and if He wants us to have revival then we will have it,’ is deceiving. We are quick to straighten a man out who comes to us and says ‘When God is ready to give me the Holy Ghost, I’ll get it,’ and tell him that God has been ready a long time, and as soon as he is willing to believe God and yield to Him, he will receive it. The same principle works for God sending His powerful move of revival.
It is His will that souls are receiving the Holy Ghost in our churches all the time. He is ready. It is we who have the changing to do. The day we seek the Lord with all of our hearts is the day we will find Him. If we can go for weeks with empty altars and not be concerned, we are the ones who need to repent. Someone needs to stop excusing themselves, and shake the sleepiness out of their carnal eyes, and begin enquiring of the Lord about how to get back in line with His program. People must realize that they have not yet reached their potential, and that it is far greater than they
have ever dreamed of, for themselves.”
“There are some preachers who do foolish things” says Bro. Gray, “that, in themselves, can hinder the work of God. Some have ordered unlisted telephone numbers because they do not want to be disturbed. If a person is not ready to be annoyed, bothered, and broken in upon, he is not ready to be a minister. Jesus said, ‘He that would be greatest among you shall be your servant.’
Other ministers are overly concerned with what is due them and they forget to pour themselves out to their people. If a person is in the ministry for what he can get out of it, in material things, he would do well to go into a profession of this world. A minister must be on call 24 hours a day. He has a greater responsibility than a doctor. A doctor deals with the natural body and a preacher deals with that which will live forever somewhere.
“I have heard ministers make foolish statements from the pulpit which, if they had only sat down, and thought about what they were going to say, they would have never uttered, and yet they are dealing with the most delicate of operations. A minister must constantly carry with him a consciousness of the place that he holds, and the high calling of God which is above all things; that he is to live and speak in such a way as to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus.”
“Another hindrance is for people to become super-critical of themselves to the point of no faith in their abilities, to accomplish great things for God. They can be convinced that they can do far greater things, than they ever have before, in their lives. Those things have to be reached for, contended for, and sought after diligently with desire. There is no need to just drift along. We can do great things for Christ before the sun sets on this generation. We ministers, should challenge, show and inspire our people. The greatest hindrance to the work of God is the preacher who is
not doing his best, who doesn’t have a vision, and is content without reaching the lost. The saints will follow the pastor who is out there, giving it all he has.”
When a group of people allow the church buildings to get run down and need painting and general upkeep, that church has gotten stale. There should be some pride about their church, and they should accept the responsibility for keeping it looking nice. Many times, the people must be challenged to strive for excellence. The pastor must have the vision. He can’t get it from the people, he must have it himself. There must be that in him, which endeavors to bring the best out of all who are in his church. Once again, it comes back to the pastor to provide the vision and faith for what can be done. When he does, the church will feel the impact as it builds for the future and never finds a stopping place. “Inspire the people to continually move ahead with new projects and new avenues of service,” encourages Pastor Gray.
Advice to the Young Preacher
First, the young preacher’s personal walk with God is the most important. Gimmicks are not the answer. A person may have a lot of brilliant ideas and be a good promoter, but that is not enough. God knows we need all of the brilliant ideas we can get, and promotion is a part of doing a work for God, but those talents must be built on a strong foundation of love for God and for people. Nothing takes the place of good old fashioned genuine consecration to the Lord.
Sometimes young preachers feel that tricks and shortcuts will do the job. When it comes down to working with the desperate problems of our society, tricks won’t work, it takes wisdom from Almighty God. To get people into the church, and to establish them on the Word of God, and to lead them into a spiritual walk with God, takes a lot more than just good promotion. The strong, straight, clean, holy preaching of the Word, out of a heart that is wholly surrendered to the Lord, is what He is looking for in His ministers. God will use the young man who has this kind of ministry as a result of his dedication and spiritual depth.
Every person has abilities which the Lord can use. Some have great enthusiasm and zeal. But the most important quality a minister can possess, is faithfulness. One thing that successful workers, who are being used of God, have in common, is that they are dependable and faithful. They are not up and down, in and out, one day climbing the heights and the next day down in the valley. They have reached a place in God where they are steadily moving ahead, clear eyed, confident, knowing the will of God, reaching out after more, completely sold out to God, and faithful to Him. If they are working under a pastor, they will apply themselves to the work at hand. They will relieve their pastor’s load every way possible. It was said of Elisha, that he ministered unto Elijah.
Some people, who have tremendous abilities, have been hampered in their usefulness because they were undependable. Those who have made proper preparations for service in the Kingdom of God will find that complete devotion to God and faithfulness are their most important attributes. “I have known some who had great zeal and enthusiasm and could really get folks excited. But, steadfastness in God, is what really counts. Those other abilities can be developed. It is not what one says or is able to do, but what a person really is, that counts,” states Rev. Gray.
It is not easy to maintain revival momentum. Everything goes in cycles, and it may not be best if everything stays at ‘camp-meeting style’ level. There are times to consolidate the gains that have been made. Then another surge ahead can be made. There are the times for teaching and getting folks based on God’s Word and a good consecration. Then a special effort of reaching out can take place with even more of the power of God present. It is like the waves of the sea coming in and going out. When the tide is coming in, the waves come with a great burst of power. They ebb a bit and then come in with another great surge. This is the way a church continues to grow. It does not keep the same pressure all of the time, but an easing, only to regather forces, and make an even deeper thrust into the territory of the enemy. Gain all of the ground possible and then regroup to plan the next assault with the overall goal of winning people to the Lord. New people should be coming through the doors of the church even during the regrouping times, but many coming when an organized effort is in progress.
The spiritual tone of the church must be kept up during all phases of church outreach and projects. We need to understand that God works in many different ways. There are times when it is necessary to slack off on one effort and put the emphasis on something else. The fasting, prayer, consecration and spiritual growth must always be with us, to keep the spiritual tone of the church strong.
Folks must realize that just because they have had a degree of success doesn’t mean that they have it made now. There is no place to stop. The pastor must be a step ahead of what is going on. Rather than setting things straight after the damage is done, he must nip potential problems in the bud. So while fighting a strong defensive battle, he must also keep dreaming of great offensive drives, to continue defeating the devil.
Keeping Your Ministry Fresh
It is a very important thing to keep your ministry fresh. If there is anything a pastor should not do, it is to allow himself to get into a rut. He must be on guard that he does not preach the same old things and get stale. Of necessity, it is vital that a pastor get a brand new sermon at least once a week. If he pulls out an old message, it should not be too often. To receive new thoughts and inspiration a minister must be growing in God.
An elderly poet was once asked how he stayed full of inspiration after many years of writing. He answered by drawing the attention of his enquirer to an old apricot tree, “See that tree, it is as old as I am, but look at it here, it is blossoming out all over again, ready to bear fruit. But, I’ve noticed something, the fruit comes only on the new wood that has grown on that tree, the new sprouts, not on the old wood.” So one has to keep growing in order to be fruitful. One can never settle down and think he has it made, or rest on his oars. One must never think it is time to take it easy, there is rest coming in a better land.
One can reach back and get an old sermon instead of seeking the Lord for fresh oil but, if he does this too often, will lose that wonderful fresh flow and anointing of the Holy Ghost. That is too valuable to lose. The Lord will give inspiration for messages that will prepare people for the tests of life and get them ready for the rapture.
Every minister must truly love people. He cannot get bitter or cynical or hard because people do not appreciate him. People will disappoint him but it cannot be allowed to damage his fresh optimistic outlook that he needs to effectively minister, to the other sheep in the fold.
As a minister gets older, he should surround himself with young men. They can benefit from his years of experience and he can benefit from their youthful outlook and zeal. When people have sinned and failed God, he should remain merciful, remembering the pit from which he himself was saved, and not get sour or stale.
Brother Gray declares, “I believe that if our vision were enlarge, we would accomplish more. We should never build a fence around ourselves and get the feeling that we have attained our maximum, none of us have. We should always be reaching out to give more of ourselves to the cause of Jesus Christ.”
(The above material was taken from Revival Churches for the Rapture Generation by David Elms, 1977).
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