January 16, 2018
Building the Kingdom of God
Most of us have been to seminars that “have the secret” of success in ministry. “If you do it like we did at Holiness Vineyard Community Fellowship Church people will flock to your doors.” Most of us have also struggled with the reality that what works one place does not work at our place. Jim Sparks and I both go to churches that are struggling and they ask what can we do, and like these seminars we can tell them what worked in Sears, Battle Creek, or Mio, but then we become much like the leaders of these seminars. Below are 10 basics for any church to build the Kingdom of God.
- Love the people in your congregation and give them good Pastoral Care. As the church gets larger, it cannot all be done by the Pastor, but it must be done.
- Find a significant need in your community, plan how to meet it, then implement that plan. This is not a one time shot or a once a year event, but a day to day, year to year plan to make a difference in your community.
- Teach your people how to share the message of Jesus Christ. The Church is not about a professional clergy, but about a trained laity (the priesthood of all believers). People need to know how to share their testimony and how to explain the way one becomes a Christian.
- Preach sermons that are true to God’s Word and always show how they apply to the listeners life.
- Don’t over meet people. Time is precious and most people can give the Church no more than three hours a week. If those hours are taken up with worship and meetings, there is not time to interact with those who need Jesus. Give people time to be in the world.
- As Pastors, we must never ask people to do what we are unwilling to do. Set the example.
- Slay “sacred cows” that do help us to accomplish our mission. This is tough because some of those cows have been with us a long time and we love them. We are not a social club that does things we like, but an army on mission to regain what the Devil has stolen.
- Teach and practice the disciplines of sacrifice and servanthood. We see these in Jesus and we certainly are not greater than our Master.
- Do not be afraid to fail. Not every idea works, and not every plan succeeds, but learn from each endeavor and keep trying. There are persons in your community that only your congregation can reach. Their eternal soul hangs in the balance.
- Always work on making the Church more graceful, forgiving, and giving. The Church should always be the most graceful, forgiving, and generous place in town.
Rev. Dr. William H. Jones, State Pastor
Email your comments and thoughts to Bill.
January 8, 2018
The Demands of Charity
The Rev. Dr. Robert O. Dulin, Jr. is Pastor Emeritus of Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit and Southeastern Regional Pastor for the Church of God in Michigan
Charity without social action – what does it profit? In a society permeated with social inequities and injustice, have we fully satisfied the demands of charity by giving alms to the poor? Does charity demand more of us? And if ‘Yes,’ what ‘more’ is demanded?
Answers to this latter question come into focus when we seek answers to the question – What makes charity necessary? The more I ponder answers to this question the more I’m challenged to conclude that charity demands more than giving alms to the disinherited.
Charity is made necessary by the institutionalized social inequities, injustice, and bigotry that permeate our society’s structures, constructs, and governmental policies. Social inequities, injustice, and overt-and-covert bigotry rule the day and the night; these sins make charity necessary. These sins, however, will never be eradicated by giving alms to those affected by these sins. While alms giving may help to temporarily ameliorate the physical needs of the disinherited, alms giving – however generous the gift – does not change ‘what makes charity necessary.’
We live and move and have our being in a broken world; and this world’s brokenness can only be mended – redeemed – when people of good will go beyond dropping a coin or two in the Salvation Army’s Red Buckets. Yes, we do well and good – when we fill the Red Buckets and the church’s offering plates. If we are, however, to respond adequately to the demands of charity, we will need to go the second and third and even fourth mile; we will need to exercise the kind of faith that works with the Christ who gave his life to redeem us, and to redeem the structures and constructs of a society gone wrong.
There is crying need for our generous and tangible gifts to the disinherited to be undergirded by the kind of faith-and-works that seeks to change how things are done in our communities.
Giving alms to the poor is an act – easily done. Working to change social conditions requires time, effort, energy, and courage; yes, even courage to risk discussing social and political issues – however threatening, or disruptive, such discussions may be to our assumed peaceful fellowship.
I want to commend those pastors, and other church leaders and congregational members who during this passing year worked untiringly to make a difference in their communities. My prayer for the coming year is that all our congregations will continue to work to be in alignment with the Christ who came to save us, to redeem society’s structures from immoral practices – and to show us how life was meant to be lived.
God is at work in our world – let’s continue to work with Him who has proven his love for the world (John 3:16). May the God revealed to us in Jesus Christ arm us with everything we need to prove our love for the disinherited – THEN…The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’ (Matt. 25:40 NIV).
Email your comments and thoughts to Bob.