I get flooded with church growth material in the mail, and in emails. I also get a tremendous amount of invitations to participate in “church fundraising” seminars. If you are in ministry, you know what I am talking about. While many methods may produce, doing things the Bible way will produce solid Bible results.
Perspective on growth.
Church growth is always understood in light of what the culture says is growth. In America, growth and success are usually measured by quantity and profit - the same ways the business world judges itself. In America, the largest churches in existence have many thousands of members and a tremendous amount of wealth as a result. They are considered successful yet, those same ministries don’t Biblically make disciples.
The people of God want to give. If led by a true shepherd in a Biblical fashion, they will give and support what God wants that local Body to do.
Most ministry concerning giving approaches people from the point of view that people are reluctant to give and need to be convinced. Some are that way, but not as many as believed. I guess the issue is similar to the “is the glass is half empty or glass half full” story. Attitude determines approach and approach determines outcome.
I was in a convention when the head of the organization was receiving the offering and said this, “I know God has met the need, but you people are not obeying Him.” The approach to God’s people was that of a good scolding. That may work once, but it will not work a second time because that kind of treatment is abusive. I gave something just so that minister would shut up. A minister like that will have constant problems with financing the ministry and never know why.
The Garden of Eden was a temple.
The Hebrew word for “garden” is gan. - a fenced area with an entry door. The Garden of Eden was a fenced area with a single door on the east side (Genesis 3:24). God’s presence would come only within the garden, which is very similar to the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon. According to Delitzsch, “The garden is the most holy (or the holy of holies), Eden is the holy place, whilst the whole earth around is it porch and court.”
JFB commentators say this about Adam and the Garden of Eden, “it was in fact a temple in which he worshipped God, and was daily employed in offering the sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise.”
Adam was a priest.
(Genesis 2:15 ESV) “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
There are a lot of people out there in the world. Authorities estimate the world population at just above seven billion. People everywhere are talking about “sustainability” as they observe the strain on the environment that the population generates.
One of the hallmarks of the day we live in is clearly stated in the Bible.
(2 Timothy 3:1–2 ESV) “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,”
Notice the “times of difficulty” come because of carnal people. Most pastors tell me that to accomplish the call of God on their lives it is difficult due to a lack of finances and a lack of help. People are primarily interested in themselves and ignore others, and there’s a lot of them.
As I travel the world ministering on “Building the Financial Base of the Local Church,” I find that this scripture is one of the biggest challenges that pastors face. Multitudes of Christians have been influenced by this spirit of the world but are completely blind to it because they are carnal. Society teaches them to live for and please themselves, and then, the influential financial ministers have trained them to be selfish in their motive and with their money. Most of the financial teaching in the Body of Christ has only produced greed in the saints - a truth proven by the lack of finances to further the Kingdom.
I have been reluctant to write this article for some time. However, I believe I must obey God. Please remember, this is written for ministers.
Babies and small children live on milk. In the Body of Christ there are two reasons a person might be living on the milk of the Word. They may be new believers in Christ, or they might be believers that refuse to grow up in Christ.
(Hebrews 5:13–14 ESV) “for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
(1 Corinthians 3:1–2 ESV) “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,”
There is a depth of knowledge and understanding in God that is reserved for the mature in Christ. A person qualifies to receive this knowledge and understanding by applying themselves in growing spiritually. They begin, as we all do, on the milk of the Word but they are to grow to where they are ready to eat solid food.
We are living at the end of the last days. The Bible has a lot to say about what will be happening in the Body of Christ and in the world in this day. At present there is a tremendous amount of spiritual activity and Christians need to be very discerning about this. Most Christians can recognize false, anti-Christian activity by other religions. I am speaking about spiritual activity within from what many people call “the church.”
A whole lot of “false” going on.
The warnings about false activity in our day are overwhelming, but overlooked by many.
Matt. 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
I love ministering to God’s people. As I travel, I minister in many churches throughout the world, usually on the subject of Biblical finances. Often, I am asked to minister in financial conventions within a local church and it always helps the local pastor and church. I appreciate every opportunity that I have to fulfill my calling and to help build the local church.
A big part of my ministry includes ministering to ministers. God has made me a specialist in training minsters to build the financial base of the local church. In the last few years, the Lord has impressed upon me to conduct intensive financial conventions for ministers. These conventions are in addition to my existing ministry.
It has been said that Jesus told us what to do but not necessarily how to do it. “How” to do things can be very fluid based upon many factors; examples being predominant culture or even availability of certain resources. In a moral ministry, the end does not justify the means, but the means can vary greatly.
Jesus made the purpose of the ministry very clear.
(Matthew 28:19–20 ESV) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Giving becomes sowing.
2 Corinthians 8 and 9 are entirely about giving. Prior to mentioning “sowing” Paul declares that what he is talking about is giving.
(2 Corinthians 9:5 AMP) “That is why I thought it necessary to urge these brethren to go to you before I do and make arrangements in advance for this bountiful, promised gift of yours, so that it may be ready, not as an extortion [wrung out of you] but as a generous and willing gift.”
Paul is writing to remind the Corinthians of the gift they promised for the persecuted Saints in Jerusalem. He wanted to remind them but he also wanted to give them time to prepare their gift so that it would be a willing gift. Giving thought out in advance is a willing gift.
Paul then tells the Corinthians what will happen when they give.
Coming into the Presence of God and our offerings for Him are connected. Throughout the Bible, worship of God involves offerings. We see this before the Law, during the Law, during the New Testament and we see it in the New Heaven and New Earth. Offering to God is not a “covenant specific” doctrine. Offerings were not introduced under the Law, but they were regulated under the Law. Even so, the Law reveals the heart of God in many matters. Here are some scriptures to consider concerning offerings and His presence.
(Psalms 96:8 AMP) “Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come [before Him] into His courts.”
(Psalms 100:4 AMP) “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!”
There are likely thousands of books, CDs and articles on the subject of “vision.” I have found that the Bible gives only one vision and that vision is the Lord’s. When a minister answers a calling from the Lord Jesus, he is given an assignment within the Lord’s vision. That assignment is what most are speaking about when they talk about “their” vision.
The distinction between the Lord’s vision and our assignment within that vision is an important one to be made. If each of us has a vision that we are working to accomplish, then we can easily become competitive and political. Competition has no place in the Kingdom of God. Competition is a worldly trait that by definition is to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same. Being a good competitor is how you succeed in business. The Kingdom of God is not a business, although some have made it so.
A warning and encouragement for the LAST DAYS.
Faith is a lot more than what is often taught - it is critical to the last days.
There are four mentions of this well known statement, one in the Old Testament and three in the New Testament. “The just shall live by faith“ has been one of the most widely quoted verses among the Word of Faith people for at least the last three decades. It seems everyone knows and uses this statement.
Poverty is the result of man.
Poverty is neither the product of God or of the devil. Through man’s choice, poverty entered the world. You know the account of the temptation of mankind and their corresponding disobedience. God then pronounces the penalty of their choice.