Summary: A message from a pastor who has been hired to lead a church to a congregation, establishing the ground rules for their future relationship.
You had heard that due to my health, I had to temporarily retire from the ministry. You also heard that I was healed and contemplating planting our third church. That is when I received a phone call from the leaders of your church, asking me if I would consider being your new pastor.
You said your church needed someone with Godly vision who could lead it back into a growth mode; that you needed sound doctrine and teaching. I told you then and I will repeat it now: It will not be me who can grow your church. Only you can grow this church. It will not be me who grows your faith in Christ, it will be you. All I can do is give you the tools. It is up to you whether you decide to use them or not.
It will not be my abilities to reach out into the community to bring in new people to hear about Jesus; it will be your desire to reach out to them. I just wanted to lay this one very basic foundation as to how I manage a church before we proceed.
Too many churches are only willing to go to church on Sunday morning, and then go home and stay uninvolved the rest of the week. To many churches leave everything up to the pastor, and then if things don’t go like they think they should, they fire the pastor.
Don’t play that game with me. I am willing to give you my time, my talents, my desires, my faith, and my love. I require that you give me your desire to reach others for Jesus Christ. If we can accept that mandate on both sides, we shall be fine and we shall have a church that is very strong in the Lord. If we can’t, all we will have is a social club. I don’t like social clubs. I want to see each of you being everything you can be in the Lord, and doing everything you can do for Him.
Now, you will notice that I speak on many subjects as time goes by, but every now and then, as you know by now, I zero in on one subject and preach about it more during certain periods. One subject that will almost always be included in my sermons is reaching new people for Jesus Christ. I do that, because no matter what else we are doing, or whatever we might be called to do, reaching new people for Jesus is the top priority in every Christian’s life, and iit should be the top priority for every church.
This morning I want to talk to you about something that is happening more and more in Christian relationships with the Lord. What I see is that an individual will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, or a Christian will grow closer and stronger in their relationship with Jesus Christ. At first, they become very excited about what God is doing in their lives, but they soon become accustomed to having a life of routine and this leads to being confined to a cardboard box and the comfort found in NOT doing anything differently in their lives.
When this happens, they hinder the work of God, and, at best, they can only grow to a small level of faith in the Lord. They settle in their comfort zone, being happy that things don’t change - and then God will ask them to do something new, or in a way that they are not used to doing. He might ask them to take a step of faith and do something that just doesn’t make much sense, and out of fear of the unknown we will sometimes refuse to press onward. By being so inflexible, we actually render ourselves useless to God.
Most people will start thinking everything that does not make sense to them is wrong, or they start to think that their priorities are the only right ones. They have forgotten that God works through other people, too. The bottom line when this happens is their level of faith actually starts to deteriorate to the point that they cannot feel comfortable trusting God anymore.
There was a man named Nasseri who actually lived in a Paris airport for 11 years. He was a man without a country. He had been expelled from his native country of Iran, and on his way to France, his passport was stolen. Landing in Paris, he was not allowed out of the airport, and was soon shuttled to England. Because of no passport, he was sent back to France where he was again denied permission to leave the airport.
For 11 years, he lived in the airport. He subsided on handouts from employees and used the public restroom to keep clean. He spent his time writing in diaries. Then in September 1999, the French authorities presented him with a travel card and a French residency permit. Suddenly he was free to go anywhere he wanted.