Does prayer make any difference? Absolutely! And prayer makes a difference because the living God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside the one praying. Further, when God’s people get together and pray as a community, amazing things happen!
I’m in awe of God because He is God and because of all that I know to be true about Him from Scripture. And I’m humbled to be a part of what he is doing in the world today. I just got to share this brief update about Grace Hills Church via Mission:World Magazine. Will you read it and rejoice with me?
No church leader I know wants to see another church close its doors. We need every local church, now more than ever, if we’re going to fulfill the Great Commission as soon as possible. I’m a Baptist who still believes in the perpetuity of biblical, local New Testament churches until Jesus comes again. But each local church in history has tended to have its own life cycle. Some are revived and have a whole new life. Others disband and dissolve. And many churches limp along in mere survival mode for a couple of decades until their stalwart generation is gone and then close their doors.
My favorite term referring to my role as a Pastor is the word undershepherd. I’ve been assigned the task of leading and feeding a flock, a local body of believers. And while I seek to lead with vision, with integrity, and with faith, I readily recognize that I am not the head of Grace Hills Church. That’s Jesus’ job. So I shepherd the flock, but I do so under the direction of King Jesus, the Chief Shepherd.
We need some terminology shifts in our discussion about weekend gatherings of the church. First of all, the word “attendance” implies that church is an event that we support and make happen with our attendance. But church isn’t an event. And while the church is “local” in its expression, it isn’t defined by a building or a location either.
I wasn’t exactly Mr. Athlete as a kid, so when we played sports in school or in the neighborhood and captains started picking teams, I usually wasn’t first choice… or second or third. But when it comes to my role as a member of God’s kingdom, the Bible says I’m part of a people that God has chosen and called out for a special task. We’ve been recruited to turn the world upside down.
As a Pastor, I’m well aware of how many people have the assumption that “all Pastors want to talk about is money.” The funny thing is, after twenty years in ministry and communicating regularly with thousands of pastors, I can firmly assert that talking about money is one of our least favorite things to do, especially in our culture where personal finances are very… personal.
About 100,000 churches will be dead in a decade and a half. That’s somewhere around one fourth of the churches that exist in America today. Personally, I don’t believe “the church” is dying, but the overall health of the church in America will be drastically hindered by the disappearance of so many local bodies.
When it comes to leading a strong ministry and building a healthy church, it takes more than solid theology or smart strategy. In fact, it takes a combination of those, plus the Spirit’s leading and empowerment. I think of these three as pillars of a dynamic ministry.