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Larry Stockstill, Jack Hayford, Chris Hodges and others reveal a process that offers uncompromising love and mercy



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J a n u a r y // F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 4


Restoring Fallen Leaders


The moral default of many ministers has resulted in a leadership credibility crisis in the church. The good news is God’s grace abounds for leaders too. In this issue, Ministry Today examines what a restoration process should look like and offers guidelines on how to help restore a fallen leader with love and grace.



Though there are no clear scriptural guidelines to follow in restoring a fallen pastor, here’s a process that can help By Larry Stockstill


An exclusive interview with Chris Hodges reveals a healthy model for restoring ministers—in this case, Louisiana pastor Dino Rizzo By Shawn A. Akers


The restoration process of a fallen leader isn’t a quick fix, but it’s a sensitive process that requires prayer and time By Jack Hayford


A Texas-based ministry has become not only a safe haven for pastors who have fallen, but also a launchpad for restoration By David Vigil


A guide for healthy ministry that will help you to remain real and stay accountable By Geoff Surratt


48 | MULTI-ETHNIC MINISTRY Work for the kingdom knows no racial boundaries 50 | FINANCE Limited financial resources shouldn’t limit your ministry’s effectiveness 52 | YOUTH How to improve your one-onone ministry time 54 | HEALTH Why staying healthy involves your spirit and body


56 | ETHICS The most neglected teaching in the church 58 | PERSONAL CHARACTER 7 deadly thoughts of leaders 60 | INNOVATION Larry Osborne talks church growth strategy 62 | EDUCATION 10 good reasons for going back to school


64 | CHURCH GROWTH Planting a new church can be exhilarating 66 | DISCIPLESHIP How to repair faulty discipleship views 68 | EVANGELISM 5 tips for sharing Jesus with an atheist 6|M  INISTRY OUTSIDE THE BOX How to reach the unreached, the rewards of volunteering


12 | KINGDOM CULTURE The world’s hatred for Jesus was theological, not sociological By Justin Lathrop 70 | PASTOR’S HEART Avoid being the next casualty of moral failures among leaders By David Shibley


Lust is one of Satan’s strongest tools against believers, including pastors. Here’s how to build a firewall for your own good. By Joseph Mattera


MinistryToday January // February 2014

Ministry Today (ISSN #0891-5725) is published bi-monthly by Charisma Media, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. Periodicals postage paid at Lake Mary, FL 32746 and at additional entry offices. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distributing) Sales Agreement Number 40037127. Subscription rate is $24.97 for six issues and $39.97 for twelve issues. Canadian subscribers add $5 per year for postage, other countries add $10 per year for postage, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. Send undeliverable Canadian mail to: 1415 Janette Avenue, Windsor, ON N8X1Z1. © 2013 by Charisma Media. For advertising information call (407) 333-0600. Nothing that appears in Ministry Today may be reprinted without permission. PRINTED IN THE USA Cover & TOC: Lightstock



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How to Reach Those We Haven’t Reached Before

The Funniest Church Service Ever We billed the services as, “The Funniest Church Service Ever.” We empowered our people with invitations, put a big banner out front and prayed that the disenfranchised would come. My prayer was, “Lord, draw some people who never thought they’d come to church.” I know, it’s written somewhere that comedians and preaching don’t mix. But testimonies and church services go quite well together. So I asked our comedian to share some of his personal experiences (that is, his testimony) along with a biblical message, and the idea worked better than I had hoped. By God’s grace, we touched 500 people whom we had never touched before. And a surprisingly large number of them returned the following weekend and are becoming part of the church. Drawing Outside the Lines Yes, we drew a line that deviated slightly from “the box.” That’s what we intended to do because we wanted to reach people we hadn’t reached before. Yes, we took some criticism from members who felt we crossed a line. And yes, I suppose I’ll get several critical comments from pastors who read this. But I decided a long time ago I was willing to do anything short of sin to reach people for Christ. And it looks as if somewhere around 50 eternities have been changed as a result of our funny church service. An Easy Invitation The truth about me is that I work fairly hard at inviting friends and neighbors to church, and most of them turn me down regularly. I discovered that inviting them to hear a comedian at church was easier than issuing almost any other invitation I’ve given. During breakfast one morning, I invited three men to attend. All of them agreed. One of them was our city’s former mayor, who thanked me profusely (with a big smile on his face) after the service. 6

MinistryToday January // February 2014

© istockphoto/Alina555

I’m sure I’m not the only pastor who’s been rocked by Craig Groeschel’s famous statement, “If you want to reach people you’re not currently reaching you’re going to have to do things you’re not currently doing.” That concept has pushed me to do some things I had never considered doing before. A few months ago the thought came to me that most unchurched and dechurched people have the idea that church services are dull and boring. I realized we probably hadn’t reached many people who have that mindset, so I decided to do something that might get their attention: I hired a comedian to preach for me.

The Power of Laughter Ecclesiastes 3:4 says that there is a time to mourn and a time to laugh. We do a lot of mourning in church. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (NIV). I got to experience the truth of this verse up close and personal that weekend. Dozens of people reported how healed they felt as a result of laughing together. A lady told me she enjoyed it so much, she stayed for a second service. I wish I could say that happens when I preach! A few days afterward, an older gentleman emailed me to say that he hadn’t been to a church in years. The one-two emotional punch of laughter from our speaker combined with a personal touch during our prayer-partner time so moved him that he’s decided to continue attending. His note concluded with, “I was at the point of suicide more than once. … I hope this encourages you in your efforts to reach the wounded.” Take a Risk I am learning that there’s a close relationship between faith and risk. This risk seems to have paid off for us. It may not work for everyone. Maybe our next outside-the-box venture won’t turn out as well. But as for me and my church, I hope we’ll continue to find ways to draw our boundaries wider in order to reach previously unreached segments of our city.  —Hal Seed

» continued

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Multisite Children’s Ministry: Launching a First Campus Your initial steps into the world of the multisite church can be intimidating—not because you’re unwilling to take them but because you don’t know where to begin. The concept of launching your first multisite location is not difficult; it is simply replicating what you currently do at another location. However, the process itself can be incredibly complex—particularly for children’s ministry. There are a lot of moving parts within an established kids’ ministry. There are things you do, events you host, processes established and policies understood that weren’t planned or developed overnight. They took time to set in motion.

In fact, when you take inventory of all the things you must replicate in order to launch a multisite location, the list can be overwhelming. I believe there are three major steps a children’s ministry leader must take to ensure a successful multisite launch: 1) Determine your strategy, 2) Build your volunteer launch team and 3) Prioritize your programming. If your church leadership is moving toward the multisite model, these steps can help you successfully navigate the unfamiliar waters of multisite ministry. I’ve met a lot of different kidmin leaders who lead within a multisite model. And the reasons

or philosophies that led them to multisite ministry are as varied as the churches themselves. But I’ve learned that the ways you find solutions for meeting the needs of your campuses are determined by the reason you launched the campus in the first place. Whatever the reason, it’s important to ask some clarifying questions to help you determine a sustainable approach to multisite ministry: What are your non-negotiables? Do you want a child to experience the same programming no matter which location he attends? If yes, then a clear non-negotiable is curriculum. Curriculum is determined by you or your designee, and the campus leadership does not have the freedom to change it.

© istockphoto/cogal

How interdependent and intradependent do you want the locations to be? All locations will bear the same church name. But is it the goal for each location to have the option of becoming independent in the future? If yes, then your staff structure and supporting systems should reflect this outcome. How will you structure for intradependence?  At, I led a campus kidmin team. 8

MinistryToday January // February 2014

Each month I reported projected attendance numbers to a central team who took that information and determined and prepped the materials I needed to implement ministry to kids from preschool through fifth grade. This method required a separate team of people to crank out materials for all the campuses each month. As a ministry leader, my time was more available to meet the [shepherding] needs of the kids, families and volunteers at my campus. Another option is to pull a percentage of time from each Kidmin leader at each campus to contribute toward the global efforts that benefit all campuses. This is currently the mode at my church in Tennessee. Each Kidmin staff member has a global responsibility. This allows us to leverage a portion of the time and talent of each team member that will work to the benefit the entire team. Though these questions are not the only ones to consider, they are very important to address. As you plan for your first multisite campus launch, I highly recommend exploring them with your leadership to help you form a sustainable plan.  —Gina McClain

» continued

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MINISTRY OUTSIDE THE BOX V o l . 3 2 // N o . 1

The Positive Rewards of Volunteering

© istockphoto/asiseeit

The church runs on volunteers. Perhaps your job is a volunteer position (or feels like it). Or maybe you rely on volunteers to get the work done. It’s critical to consider the strategic before the tactical. Here are some questions to clarify: What are the benefits to be enjoyed? Every task has an outcome. And if a job needs doing, you need to know why someone would want to do it. If the outcome isn’t quickly evident (or seems negative), make sure you can find a 10 MinistryToday January // February 2014

positive you can emphasize. Living longer is nice, but you probably want something more tangible.

Chief Operating Officer JOY F. STRANG Editorial Director MARCUS YOARS

Managing Editor SHAWN A. AKERS

Editorial Assistant SEAN ROBERTS

Advertising Manager ANN MARIE KELLY © istockphoto/asiseeit

Have you ever been asked to volunteer for something? If you’re breathing and go to a church, you probably have. A while back, the Center for Church Communications asked if I’d volunteer to serve on their board and to help create their exciting new Certification Lab for church communicators. The usual “before I answer” questions went through my mind: hh What will I have to do? hh How much time will it take? hh I s t hi s a wor t hy c au s e t ha t fulfills what I want to do? hh The f ir s t t wo are logis tical; the last is more strategic. Time is a limited resource. I want to use it ef fectively and strategically, with result s. When it ’s gone, it can’t be reused.

Publisher/Executive Editor STEVE STRANG

What kind of person is needed? Every person is known for something. Does the volunteer need to be known for something specific in order to fulfill this job effectively? If you require someone who’s meticulous, you don’t want to push a person who’s free-spirited. Allowing volunteers to use a task to fulfill what they want to do with their lives is much easier than pushing the proverbial square peg into the round hole. What are the actual costs for doing this? This is huge. Marketing, at its core, is getting someone to do something for a “cost.” The higher the cost, the more benefit needs to come from it. So consider the perceived cost. Is it a lot of time, or is it a long drive? Does it force you to do what you don’t want to? You need to weigh the benefits or results. It’s always important for you and your volunteers to go through this decision process because everyone needs to be reminded of the job’s benefits in order for them to do the tactical work (the perceived price). It’s important to keep people focused on the positive rewards: ultimately, ministry!  —Mark McDonald

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Hated but Likeable

The world’s hatred for Jesus was theological, not sociological


“Even when Jesus was most hated, He never stopped being likeable.”

12 MinistryToday January // February 2014

There is some overlap between the two, of course, but Jesus always made it clear the former was more important. He never fought battles over purely sociological points unless they were important to His theology. Likewise, Paul did not encourage Christians to be social revolutionaries. Earthly governments were, after all, part of the temporal economy of God (see Rom. 13:1–7). They were a part of the old world that was passing away, and it was not Paul’s intent for the church to disrupt society or overthrow governments. Rather, he encouraged Christians to be good citizens and exemplary members of their families and society as well as to behave in a manner consistent with the teachings of Christ. What if becoming more likeable by being exemplary members of family and society is the best way to promote the gospel message?

Jesus Responded With Love Scripture warns Christians they will be hated by the world (see John 15:19), but notice that the same passage warning Christians of certain hatred also commands them to love one another. In this passage, the stark contrast between the love of Christ and the hatred of the world is the same contrast that should be made between Christians and the world. Even when Jesus was most hated, He never stopped being likeable. He never stopped being generous with everything He had, engaging others in conversation, celebrating and mourning with others, and liking other people, even those who were most awful to Him. When it came time for His life to end, Jesus continued to be generous and gracious, even with those who were killing Him. When we are hated by the world and wonder how we should respond, we must look to Jesus as our example. Despite being hated, we must continue to be likeable.  J u s t i n L a t h r o p has a dozen years of local church ministry experience and has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the kingdom. He serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations, working predominantly with the Assemblies of God.

Meshali Mitchell

talk and write often about the concept of likeability because I believe it can have a tremendous impact on our personal and professional lives. The most difficult feedback I receive goes like this: “OK, what you’re saying sounds nice, but should likeability really be our primary objective? Was Jesus likeable?” This is an important point for me to address because, though I can see how becoming likeable and becoming like Jesus may seem mutually exclusive, I believe the pillars of likeability I mention in my e-book, Likeability: What We Can Learn from Social Media About Becoming Better Humans, are rooted in Scripture and what it teaches. Each of these 10 pillars has played an integral role in my spiritual development. I got the idea for the 10 pilla rs of likeability from the time I’ve spent working with and around social media. The more I learned about social media and the more I coached others to be effective on social media, the more I realized that in their use of the things that make a person “likeable” on social media also make him likeable in real life. The pillars include actions such as choosing to like others first (the way God chose to love us before we loved him), discovering what resources people find valuable, and sharing generously whatever we have with them. When it comes to social media, I encourage individuals to engage in the conversation, to avoid talking about themselves too much, to celebrate and mourn with others, to know their audience, to be interesting people and to keep their messages short and sweet. Honestly, I think these same tenets make us “likeable” in real life; and I believe there are many ways these attitudes and postures overlap with how Jesus ministered. Jesus’ ministry grew and the crowds flocked to Him not because He was self-serving and arrogant but because He was incredibly likeable. He cared for others deeply, was willing to give until it hurt, and never ceased to be interesting and engaging. Although Jesus wasn’t always liked, I believe He was always likeable. Here’s why: The world’s hatred for Jesus was theological, not sociological.

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in the Pulpit



Though there are no clear scriptural guidelines to follow in restoring a fallen pastor, here is a process that can help


e are living in difficult times. The moral default of many ministers has

resulted in a leadership credibility crisis. The public exposure and media circus that ensues when a leader fails damages the hearts of precious, tender believers. As a pastor for more than 30 years, I have observed the disappointing failure of a number of once-powerful leaders. Their churches are confused and divided, their supporters are angry, their critics are thrilled and their families are devastated. »

Lightstock; © istockphoto/OSTILL

January // February 2014 MinistryToday   17

After a leader’s sin has been carefully discerned by an overseeing body and there are clear “fruits of repentance,” his restoration can begin.

A nu mber of denom inations have developed clear guidelines for restorat ion. Un for t u nately, ma ny independent churches have no idea “who’s in charge” and how to restore a fallen leader they once looked to and placed their families under. As a result, the restoration process—or lack thereof—takes various forms. Some leaders simply apologize and continue their ministr y, seemingly facing no consequences for their shameful behavior. Others witness the division and dissolution of their churches as members either defend or depart. Still others craft their own path of restoration, believing that their spiritual expertise is sufficient to guide them back into credibility and respect. None of these forms is ideal. Paul told us, “The overseer must be above reproach ” (1 Tim. 3:2 , NI V) a nd “those [overseers] who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning” (5:20). But Paul’s admonitions are not a lot to build a process on. S om e q u ot e G a l a t i a n s 6:1 a s a guideline: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a 18 MinistryToday January // February 2014

spirit of gentleness” (ESV). But Greek scholars point out in Word Studies in the Greek New Testament that this verse refers to a “slip or lapse rather than a willful sin.” Though it is probably not referring to the deeply ingrained moral failure of a leader, it is still true that any process of restoration must be done in a spirit of meekness, and the person overseeing t he restorat ion must heed Pau l ’s warning to keep watch on himself lest he also is tempted (see Gal. 6:1). With so many different approaches to consider, I hu mbly offer some suggestions, not for those interested in debating the subject but for those who truly need to know how to deal with a fallen leader. All denominat ions d i f fer i n t hei r approach to this process because there a re no scriptural guidelines for exactly what the process to restore a leader who lapses morally, ethically, financially or even theologically should be. Discernment of Sin

The process I recommend starts w it h d i scer n ment of t he si n by those “who are spiritual” (Gal. 6:1). The discover y of the sin is not as

important as the discernment of it. Some sins are “faults”—indiscretions— as opposed to mora l failures. You don’t need a ha m mer to remove a splinter. An indiscretion requires discipline, whereas a moral failure may require disqualification. After a leader sins, there are eight questions the spiritual overseers of the leader’s church must carefully answer: 1. How deepl y r oo t e d and long-standing is the sin? Patterns of

sin can sometimes take as long to get out of as it took to get into them. You cannot simply bandage a malignancy. Those in charge of the restoration process must recognize that there is a need for skillful surgery that deals with even the margins and borders of the cancer. 2. Has the individual taken steps to cover his sin for a long period of time? Does he have a long history of

untruthfulness regarding the failure, lying and denying to those who had a premonition of failure or perhaps confronted him? Or was it a sudden, impulsive weakness he immediately confessed? Did he develop a lifestyle of deception? Did he confess his sin? » © istockphoto/MorganDDL

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3. Did the leader publicly deny his sin and thus lose all credibilit y with his followers when the evidence became undeniable? We have seen

even in the politica l a nd ath letic world that the worst offense related to a sca nda l is a n i n it ia l, publ ic denial of wrongdoing and then an embarrassing confession when the evidence becomes too weighty.


A repentant heart is essential for a recovering pastor. But the hearts of those involved in the restoration process must be right as well. Paul said that the attitude overseers should have in the process of restoration is one of meekness (see Gal. 6:1). Leadership failure is a tragedy and a disaster. No one should delight in or be gleeful about a leader’s demise. The leader’s wife and children will suffer intense shame for the leader’s actions. His name will be a byword for many years. The church will suffer from controversy in the community. The lost will have a reason to blaspheme the Lord’s name. A proud, high-minded, flippant attitude on the part of those doing the restoration is spiritually immature and deadly to the entire process. Paul said that we should look to ourselves so that we too would not be tempted (see Gal. 6:1). Here are a few attitudes a leader must maintain while overseeing a restoration process: 1. Impartiality. One aspect of meekness is humble fear before God in undertaking church discipline. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality” (1 Tim. 5:19-21). These responsibilities are holy responsibilities. The Father, Christ Jesus and the “elect angels” are overseeing the order and operation of the local church. It is a mistake to allow ourselves to become simply “relational” in our discipline and restoration of leaders. Our love for them does not override our love for Christ’s church or the example we must set in ministry. Open communication with a congregation about the discipline of a leader is critical. The overseeing body must select interim leadership and begin a search for new leadership if necessary. 2. Vision. Those involved in restoration must maintain a vision of a fully restored leader, marriage and ministry. Though a leader’s influence may be limited by his past, there will be opportunities for him to release his gift first as a layman and perhaps later as a five-fold leader. He must, however, maintain submission to the process so that the future testimony of those restoring him can be one of complete submission and restoration. Some confuse the terms “forgiveness” and “restoration” with regard to a leader who has experienced a failure. A line must be drawn between forgiveness and restoration. Forgiveness is always instant! However, the Greek word for restoration means “the setting of a broken bone.” We know that restoring a bone requires a cast, a period of immobility and therapy. Those restoring a leader must prepare themselves to be patient with the fallen leader in his depression, anger, hurt, confusion, misunderstanding and cycles of despair. What is the end vision for a restoration team? To stand with a leader publicly, testify of his submission to a process and declare that he is fully restored to fellowship, fully functional in his family, and fully released to pursue the call of God on his life.

20 MinistryToday January // February 2014

4. Is he cynical about the seriousness of his sin, downplaying it as if it is normal or, at worst, marginal behavior? Self-

justification and self-defense are the opposite of “godly sorrow.”

5. Is he willing to break off every wrong relationship? In moral issues, this is

the “acid test.” A final, geographical, whatever-it-takes removal of all contact is essential, but persistent contact indicates a lack of repentance.

6. Has he excused his sin by blaming others, making himself out to be a victim?

Some hide behind a spouse’s failures, a church’s negligence or a faulty process of discipline to evoke sympathy rather than humbly owning up to their failure as the cause of all damage. 7. Does he twist Scripture to excuse h i s b e h av i o r o r l a b e l a n y o n e w h o opposes his leadership “Pharisaical” or “legalistic”? Some leaders who have

fa iled tr y to find “proof-texts” in obscure passages to deceive the sheep into t h in k ing t hat t heir im mora l behavior is actually scriptural. Some label a ny effort to confront their behavior “lega lism.” The doctrine of grace is certainly needed by all of us sinners, but “grace and truth” is required for those who stand before others as a spiritual leader. 8. Has he repented? Repenta nce includes a willingness to renounce and forsake the sin as well as a willingness to su r render a nd subm it to t he requirements of authorit y—without cha ng ing to a different authorit y during the process of restoration.

The Process of Restoration

After a leader’s sin has been carefully discerned by an overseeing body and there are clear “fruits of repentance” as outlined above, his restoration can begin. If his failure was simply an indiscretion (wrong judgment, poor © istockphoto/TatianaMironenko

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The leader cannot “demand” anything from a church where he has disqualified himself. He must cast himself on the mercy and grace of the church leadership. financial stewardship, marriage and family problems, doctrinal issue, or similar fault), it’s possible he can be given a season of discipline (such as a sabbatical) to recover without forfeiting his position. If, however, his sin was a moral failure, then the recovery of his marriage is in question, the trust of his congregation has evaporated, and he has placed himself in a position of being disqualified. Un for t u n a t el y, s ome w ho a re in the second categor y a re being asked by their board to immediately resume their roles as pastors to preserve the church’s financial stability. This is a very misguided approach to restoration because the same weight and pressure that contributed to the leader’s demise will be back on his shoulders again. Here are a few steps I recommend that the overseeing body ta ke for those who have been disqua lified for leadership. 1. Change his location. It is usually best for a leader caught in immorality 22 MinistryToday January // February 2014

to be placed u nder a nother loca l church that is not in the area (he can choose the church). I recommend that the church be several states away for the following reasons: The area the leader is from is where the person he had a sinful relationship with usually resides. Sinful roots can blossom quickly with even a casual, “coincidental” rendezvous at local places such as the grocery store. Confusion in the leader’s former congregation may arise if he is present. He may even be tempted to assert his leadership again when surrounded by sympathetic people he once had influence over. If he remains in the same city, he almost always attempts to begin a church that will pull sympathetic members to his side. This is unethical and counter-restorative. 2. Provide support. The disciplining church should prepare to help a repentant leader relocate and provide him with several months of salary while he moves his family, finds work and gets settled.

However, the church’s providing support is dependent on a cooperative attitude. The leader cannot “demand” a ny thing from a church where he has disqua lified himself. He must cast himself on the mercy and grace of the church leadership, realizing that nothing is “owed” to him. He has forfeited all claims to support by his improper actions and has even brought discredit to the name of the church in the community, hindering the church’s ability to provide support for him. The “receiving” church—the church that agrees to oversee the restoration— has obligations, also. They will be in charge of aiding the leader in finding ho u s i n g , e mploy me nt , s pi r it u a l accountability, and so on. They are not responsible for any of these things; they only agree to do their best to facilitate a smooth transition. The leader being restored should prepare to return to the workforce as soon as possible. Options for careers include substitute teaching, insurance sales, real estate, and other types of non-ministry-related employment. The home he is leaving should be put up for sale or leased for an extended period. 3. Require accountability. The leader being restored and his family must be fully accountable to the new church they become part of through engaging in small groups and church life. By “small group” I mean a weekly sma ll g roup w ith chu rch leaders. The senior pastor’s small group, a men’s ministry leader’s small group, or a m a r r i a ge m i n i s t r y le a der’s small group would all be ideal. The leader and his spouse should be in weekly counseling for at least three months after they arrive (or until the counselor feels they have dealt with the root causes of the moral failure). Engaging in church life means the leader must bring his family to church weekly, sit toward the front, and participate in worship and fellowship. A ny ser v i ng or le a der sh ip mu st be postponed until the pastor has observed months of consistency and steady, functional progress. 4. Facilitate deliverance. The primary requirement for mora l restoration Lightstock

is true repentance and deliverance. Tr ue repenta nce is 99 percent of deliverance. A renouncing of soul ties, breaking of all contact with the person he was in an immoral relationship with, closing of doors opened from childhood, and prayer and fasting for roots of sin to be discerned and removed are all critical to restoration. It is important for the overseeing body to not only recommend but also to facilitate this type of deliverance. Addressing Other Failures

Often when a leader commits a moral failure, other areas of his life are affected and must be restored as well. For such a leader, or for one who has not fallen morally but who has mishandled money, fallen into addiction, or failed in his marriage, I recommend intervention. Finances. Restoration for financial failures requires, as a minimum, repayment and restitution. If criminal activities were engaged in,

they may require judicial punishment. A leader whose personal finances are not in order must forfeit his leadership position and allow a ministr y representative to monitor all income and disbursements until outstanding debts are paid in full. Vices. Paul said that an overseer must not be “addicted to wine” (1 Tim. 3:3, NASB). Thoug h ma ny g roups differ rega rding their opinion on the casual use of alcohol (I prefer to abstain to preclude any possibility of drunkenness), addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, or pain pills is grounds for d isqua l i f icat ion. Add ic t ive behavior requires severa l yea rs of restorative therapy. Divorce. The Scriptures qualif y a leader as the “husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2). A leader who unscripturally divorces (that is, divorces for a ny rea son ot her t ha n spou sa l adu l tery) or whose spouse divorces him should step down from ministry for an extended time period in the hope

of restoring his or her marriage. It is not unusual for an unscriptural divorce to result in reconciliation and remarriage. T he leader mu st not con sider rema rriage to a different pa rtner until his spouse has remarried and reconci liation t herefore becomes impossible. All initial efforts must be toward restoration of their home, not beginning a new life with someone else. If a couple is close to divorce or has divorced and is seeking reconciliation, weekly counseling for marriage restoration for at least one year should be pursued by the couple. Ministry activity should be limited to events both partners can participate in for an extended period. Finally, if counselors, pastors and the couple agree, they can be restored back into full-time ministry.  L a r r y S t o c k s t i ll is senior pastor of Bethany World Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, La.

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A Model for


An exclusive interview with Chris Hodges reveals a healthy model for restoring ministers—in this case, former Louisiana pastor Dino Rizzo BY SHAWN A. AKERS


o pastor relishes the idea of having to involve himself in the restoration of another leader who has fallen. So when Chris Hodges, senior pastor of the Church of the Highlands in Alabama, heard of the moral failure that led to Dino Rizzo’s resignation in 2012 from the church he founded (Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, La.), he was heartbroken. But Hodges, who co-founded the Association of Related Churches with Rizzo and is now overseeing his restoration process, believes there is hope for the situation, partly because of the healthy restoration plan established by a group of leaders. Ministry Today recently caught up with Hodges to talk about this restoration. And while the conversation was not to divulge details of Rizzo’s situation, it became obvious that his restoration process—without revealing private matters—could serve as a positive example of how to fully restore a leader the right way.

24 MinistryToday January // February 2014

This whole thing had to be physically and emotionally draining for Pastor Rizzo. How is he holding up? He’s doing exceptionally well. We’ve got him on our team for the second year of his restoration. We did it in stages, where there was one year of sitting out completely and then a second year of supervised ministry. We have him on our team, and he is shining on all fronts. It’s been fantastic to watch and see. There is nothing but a glowing report. You are very much involved in the restoration process of Pastor Rizzo. Can you walk us through the entire process and what was required of him and his wife? One of the things that people don’t know about this is that I wasn’t involved from the beginning. Some of the steps taken early on weren’t what I would have recommended, but when I did get involved, the first thing we did was that we consulted with people like Pastor Larry [Stockstill], who is my pastor, and literally more than 50 different respected leaders to learn and to find out what were the best processes: what works and what hasn’t worked. Even some of the industry standards from different denominations, we really did our homework on a lot of those. Whoever is being a part of the restoration for someone, they really need to begin by educating themselves on what some of the norms are by different groups. You need to do that so that it is not so subjective to your own opinion. We really took an informed view of it. Basically, the consensus was two-fold: Some time is needed for the individual to sit out, and then [some time] for him to have some supervised ministry, which again is a very industry-worn standard. You need to give the couple and the individual some

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benchmarks to determine whether the restoration can move forward. So, between his overseers of the church and people like the counselors—they went to an independent counseling center for their marriage—[they received a great deal] of advice. Was there a list of benchmarks that he had to meet during the initial healing process? We ca me up w it h 31 d i f ferent benchmarks that we wanted them to fulfill for them to qualify for restoration. It sounds a little bit more complicated than it really is. There were some as simple as books that we wanted them to read [and others such as] things we wanted them to get in order in their home. One of them was for both him and his wife to go and get a complete physical, a complete health assessment. A lot of it involved counseling, different things like that. Not all of them were easy. In fact, some of them were incredibly difficult and required serious sacrifice. After the first year of sitting out and completing all of those benchmarks, that’s when we could go to Phase Two, the re-entry back into the ministry. I can’t get into specifics, but I can talk about the categories for the benchmarks. One was in personal finance, getting your financial house in order. There were some in physical health, counseling and marriage. A lot of them were educational. There were seminars he had to attend and books to read. We didn’t feel like we could do both the counseling and the restoration process because I was also helping Healing Place Church and their transition. Emerge Ministry out of Akron, Ohio, was in charge of the counseling process, and they did a phenomenal job. That’s what they do, counseling for ministers, and they are simply fabulous at it.



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Pastor Rizzo moved to Alabama after he resigned from the Healing Place. From your conversations with him, how difficult was it for him and his family to move on after 20 years there, and how difficult has

it been for him to accept his new role? One of t he cond it ion s of t he restoration was for him and his family to move away from Baton Rouge, La., so that with the person we set in his place, there wasn’t any confusion with his congregation and the city. That takes quite a bit of commitment to the process to leave the place you’ve been for 20 years. And that’s not just leaving the church, but the city. There needed to be full compliance. We’re fortunate that we’ve gotten 110 percent of their effort. We offered for him to come to our church and to be in Birmingham for that second year, and it has just been fabulous in every way. You can see the life coming back to them, the vision is returning. The whole goal is for after that second year, there are options. We want to give them as many options as we can to fulfill the call of God on their lives. We’re headed that way. To be honest, they were in 100 percent submission to the people who were in authority over them and to the process. We could have said, ‘Stand on your head in the snow in Alaska,’ and they would have done it. They were completely willing to do whatever. It’s one thing to be compliant, and it’s another to have a good attitude about it. We not only got the action but the attitude as well. That speaks loudly because we’re still observing the whole process. Since they’ve been here, they’ve loved being a part of our church. Dino is very involved in our Dream Center. Every minister has a little niche—their preaching or their music or whatever— and Dino’s niche has always been compassion and serving the poor. So we have him involved in the Birmingham Dream Center. With the vision and energy and excitement in our church, he’s having a blast, and our church is benefiting from his spiritual gifts as well. Trust is something that is difficult to regain once it has been broken. Has it been your experience by looking at others’ situations that people are quick to forgive, or will it be a long © istockphoto/yu-la

process for Pastor Rizzo to earn the trust for any potential new congregation? I think there are different trust levels needed for different roles, and it depends on which role he chooses and which direction he chooses to go. For instance, for him to be a senior pastor of a church, I’m not sure that’s possible, and if he does [desire to do that, it’s unknown] how long it will take to serve in that capacity again. I think the roles determine the level of trust required. Then there is the one bet ween him a nd his fa mily, especia lly his wife. Part of the restoration process requires a designated time for that. It’s different w ith ever y sit uation because every offense or sin or moral failure is completely different. It’s different in not only what happened but also in how long it was happening. A 20-year, covered-up adulterous affair is obviously different from a one-night stand.

Did Pastor Rizzo ever convey what he thought was the most difficult part of the process for him and what his hopes and dreams were for the future going forward? We talk all the time about what’s difficult and what he wants to do moving forward. I’ve urged him not to formulate any long-term plans until the process is completed. With every month that passes, the process changes, and it’s all been positive change. I’ve urged him to stay in the present and for Dino to continue to do what he’s doing. The most difficult thing for him is the difficulty of knowing that he’s disappointed many people, the feeling of breaking that trust. One of the most painful parts, and I’ve even felt this as part of his restoration process, is when people have misread the situation and added more than what’s there. Being misunderstood has been hard for him. You can divulge some things, but you can’t divulge others because there

are other people involved. His kids are involved. There is a level of sensitivity there. You try to be as open as you possibly can, but you have to be as sensitive as you can, too, to other people’s feelings and needs. It can be very difficult. When will Pastor Rizzo be released from the program to pursue what God has for him? The first year of no ministry was completed Aug. 7. It had been about 14 months. On Aug. 7, he preached here at our church on a Wednesday night. The two years is up August 2014. If he continues in good standing in all of these areas, we’re just going to turn him loose to fulfill the call of God on his life. He will have several options open to him, one of which is, if he would like to stay here and stay on our team, he can do that. We’ll help him fulfill whatever he wants to do as someone who has been completely restored. Every indicator to this point is 100 percent positive. I


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would give him, his wife and his family an A-plus on attitude and effort. There have been more than 30 ministers who have given their approval during this process. I check in with several of them, including my pastor, Larry Stockstill, and give them updates about what’s going on. They give their thumbs up, and you can’t ask for more. Satan obviously is having a field day with marriages and breaking up families in this day and age, and pastors’ families are no exception. What does Pastor Rizzo’s restoration say about God’s grace and mercy and the hope it gives? When I did research, I couldn’t find models of guys restored. In most cases, pastors were just put out to pasture. ‘Sorry, but you’re done.’ I so desperately wanted there to be a model here. It is a message of hope to those who have experienced some sort of moral failure or whatever. There

has to be. It is our responsibility as a body of believers to let there be literal demonstrations of the love of God and the restoration of God in people’s lives, all to God’s glory. People are watching. We have a responsibility to model the old adage of, ‘What would Jesus do?’ He would take that person and pick him up and show him a way to restoration and freedom if he would just take the steps. Is this your first time going through such a process, and if so, what have you learned from it that, God forbid, you can apply if you ever have to again? Yes, indeed, this is the first time, and yes, I’ve learned a ton about not only the process but also what caused it in the first place. It has caused a lot of us who are watching closely to re-evaluate our own lives in any areas that may be open doors for the enemy. In Dino’s case, and I suspect that this would be true for most pastors

and ministers, one of the main culprits was the pace of life. When you get work ing so ha rd for so long, you neglect the important relationships, including your relationship with God. It’s not a bad relationship, but it’s simply a neglected one. There’s your time with your family and your time with the Lord, and the pressures of your time that are demanded within the ministry. There were other factors that were involved, but that was one of the main ones. It’s made all of us who were watching closely re-evaluate our personal Sabbath, our travel schedules and just how much we’re doing. Personally, I’m already healthier from the adjustments I’ve made by watching what happened to Dino. That’s been one of the greatest benefits. I’ve learned some things just in watching this process.  S h a w n A . A k e r s is the managing editor of Ministry Today magazine.

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The restoration process of a fallen leader isn’t a quick fix. It’s a sensitive process that requires a great amount of prayer and the passing of time.



he discipline of a fallen leader is not a punishment by others. It is a voluntarily accepted state of one who believes the full teaching of the Word about three things: God’s mercy in forgiveness, God’s summons to restoration and the obligation of every spiritual leader to accept the counsel of other leaders in the spirit of submission. That’s what “the discipline of time” is about: healing and mending, not punishment. Time for Restoration

“What do you mean, ‘time’? Don’t you think God has forgiven them?” “Who gave you the right to judge? We’re sick and tired of hearing about it anyway!” It’s a water-cooler conversation you may hear often these days. And one may ask, “Why insist on time as a healing, restorative factor in the recovery of fallen spiritual leaders? Why risk the barrage of questions and criticisms certain to volley forth like a fusillade from a dozen cannons?” The issue of “time for restoration” is a hot one, boiling on the church’s front burner by reason of recent

© istockphoto/DenisTangneyJr/TockenPhoto/Kuzma/

January // February 2014 MinistryToday   31

events that have forced a focus on such themes as: hh The balance between judgment and mercy hh The requirements of spiritual leadership hh The relative significance of various sins hh The submission of leaders to one another hh The nature of forgiveness and restoration hh The purpose of the present purging of the Spirit. I have underta ken the subject— the proper requirement of a significant amount of time being applied in a spiritual leader’s recovery process— because I believe its resolution is crucial to the spiritual health of the body of Christ at this specific time. It’s a risky undertaking, to say the least, because so much misunderstanding abounds. But to neglect addressing the subject involves a greater risk. Not to confront legalistic demands g ives a place to relig ious notions that forget mercy. Not to challenge propositions offering cheap grace gives a license to indulgence and irresponsibility. To require too much of the fallen is to corrupt grace. To require too little is to cheapen the office of spiritual leadership. To make too much of sexual failure is to appear preoccupied with a pubic theology. To make too little of it is to surrender to the world’s sexual ethics. To exact various time penalties for different sins may too easily fall prey to arbitrary judgment. To expect too little or no time for the restorative process may overlook essential requirements of God’s Word. A Watershed Issue

The diversity of opinion on the issue of time needed for the restoration of a fallen spiritual leader exposes deep problems. Critically significant to the church’s health are its views of God’s Word, the requirements of Christian leadership and the ministering of grace. But it seems these views have become muddled and twisted in the turmoil of dealing with fallen leaders, and we have therefore been brought to a 32 MinistryToday January // February 2014

“Not to challenge propositions offering cheap grace gives a license to indulgence and irresponsibility. To require too much of the fallen is to corrupt grace. To require too little is to cheapen the office of spiritual leadership.” *  watershed point. Which way will things go? The nature of the church—its health, wholeness and holiness—is directly correspondent to our view of the nature of God. How we think about God’s character and the manner of His administration of His kingdom will inevitably determine the formation of our own character and behavior as believers. Straight thinking is crucial, not only about His love but also about how His love acts when His children need correction; not only about His mercy but also about how He mercifully judges when judgment is necessary. It isn’t an exaggeration of the present problem to say that in the last analysis, the church’s view of Jesus’ Lordship is at stake. W hat the church expects of its spiritual leaders and how we relate to

them essentially reflects how Christ Himself is viewed. The Bible says He has “given” each of them as His personal representatives, and as His appointed leaders under His ultimate headship, they are accountable to His terms. To wade into the melee seeking to sustain standards for leadership while at the same time seeking to sow mercy and pursue peace seems an impossible dilemma—that is, unless a point of reference can be agreed upon. Presumably, the Word of God is that point for those who read these words. And yet, claiming biblical authority, widely dissonant statements resound everywhere on the matter of restoring fallen leaders. Arguments for mercy are pled on grounds that “We’re all sinners anyway, and we have no right to judge the fallen” (notwithstanding that 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 and Matthew 7 require self-judgment by the body of Christ). Pleas for an instant return to ministry are made on the grounds that “David wasn’t removed as king even though he was immoral and a murderer”—without bothering to study the negative factors that dogged David’s life and rule ever after. Demands are made for permanent removal from ministry with “no hope of restoration” because “the sacred trust of holy leadership has been violated”—notwithstanding the Savior’s proven ability to renew, recreate and restore (see 2 Cor. 5:17; John 8:1-12) and His promise that if He begins a good work in us, He will complete it (see Phil. 1:6). Appeals are presented for temporary removal and restriction because “a person needs to make some restitution— to pay somehow” (a case of calling for a right action for a wrong reason). It takes time to restore a fallen spiritual leader because it took time to make him one. The position of spiritual leadership is not one that is “claimed”— t hat is, si mply a ssu med or even humanly assigned. It is one into which a person matures. In the earlier mentioned passages from the epistles, the Holy Spirit explicitly mandates certain qualifications, all of which can only be arrived at with time. Thus, 1 Timothy 3:10, in referring to the identifying of spiritual © istockphoto/solarseven

FIRST PETER AN EFFECTIVE WEAPON We all know the enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy (see John 10:10). He will continually throw temptations onto our paths in an attempt to bring down everything God has allowed us to build— our ministries, our families and our relationships. It would be wise for each of us to continue to heed the words from 1 Peter 5:1-11. Keep them near you at all times, especially when dangerous situations arise: SHEPHERD THE FLOCK “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (vv. 1-4). SUBMIT TO GOD, RESIST THE DEVIL “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ ” (v. 5). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (v. 6) “Be sober; be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (v. 8). “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (v. 9). “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (v. 10). “To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (v. 11).

34 MinistryToday January // February 2014

leadership, says, “Let these also first be tested”; that is, besides allowing the time required to cultivate the character traits required, overseers must “test” (“prove”) those being considered for leadership. Haste in appointment is specifically prohibited. That’s why, two chapters later, Paul further instructs Timothy, “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily” (5:22). New Testament leaders are grown—matured and seasoned over time, and verified in character and conduct—before hands are laid upon them, confirming the grace and call of God on their lives. But what happens when a leader so proven and dedicated to ministry falls? Forgiveness and Fruitfulness

The failure of a spiritual leader is a staggeringly painful event in the life of everyone affected by that person. Some argue that God lets leaders fall to break down the idolatry in the hearts of those who so admiringly follow the leader. I disagree completely. Thoug h isolated cases of idolizing of leadership may inevitably be present in the body of Christ, by and large the admiration, emulation and appreciation accorded leaders is neither unspiritual nor improper. God intends leaders to “grow” into that kind of respectability and trustworthiness. It is an unfortunate trait of human nature that when a devoted spiritual leader falls, the people he leads are so emotionally impacted and bereft of the security they have felt in their spiritual relationship to that person that rarely are their emotions controlled. Though a few may express anger, the disposition of most of the sheep, bruised in spirit by the fall of their shepherd, is to seize on the greatest point of support we all have—the grace of God. That grace, which always brings instant and complete forgiveness wherever fullhearted and genuine repentance is present, becomes their overa rching point of appeal, but its application is pressed beyond forg iveness to reinstatement. All too quickly, and for understandable yet unjustified emotional reasons, their voices lift an appeal for an instant settlement of the problem—a quick relief for their pain. But forgiveness and fruitfulness are two » different things. © istockphoto/Massonstock

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Forgiveness is instantaneous, but the fruits of repentance take time to grow. The restoration of the scorched fruitage of years of ministry and the repair of the “cracks” in the character that sinning has exposed cannot be restored in a moment’s burst of gracious intent or holy passion. It i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f m o s t recommendations for quick restoration that too casual an attitude exists

hu mbly ma n i fested; a nd (2) sub mission to the restoration process be allowed. The leader needs to declare both before those he leads and those who are his peers or leaders in ministry. That his repentance includes his commitment to time for his restoration cannot be mandated apart from his own will. But honesty requires an acknowledgment of the realities of our human nature: Time is

mightily—that both the discipline of time and the promise it holds must be seen for what they are, an opportunity to instruct with wisdom and to inspire with hope. To hold forth a forgiving grace in the name of Jesus is the glad tidings we have been commissioned to bring: instant reconciliation with God, new birth in Christ, promised blessing and eternal life forever in His presence.

“Not to challenge propositions offering cheap grace gives a license to indulgence and irresponsibility.”

* concerning the time that was involved in leading to the sin or the time involved in continuing the sinful walk to which the leader submitted. When grace forgives and then God’s Word summons to time for healing and full recovery of the person, we must remember: What takes time to break takes time to mend. Sin isn’t the fruit of a moment; neither is restoration. It is outright d i shonest y w it h t he ps ycholog i cal facts of the human personalit y to suppose an overnight or quick-fix healing in relationships or trust is as immediate as the blessing of God’s instant forgiveness. Discipline or Punishment?

It’s a sad fact that many believers see the disciplining of a spiritual leader as an effort on man’s part to punish, embarrass or retaliate. If such unworthy motives have ever been present, they were as unbiblical as the leader’s tragic fall. But the requirement of time for restoration is not a punishment—it is an opportunity for another side of “grace” to be shown. Failure ta kes various forms—the mishandling of monies, deception in teaching the Word, immorality in relationships, brutalit y in conduct, mounting of ecclesiastical warfare, and so on. Whenever one or more of these failures befall a spiritual leader, a certain wisdom must be applied. It is needful that (1) repentance be 36 MinistryToday January // February 2014

needed to heal, and time is needed to restore trust. The causes of leaders’ failures are not something that can be reversed in a moment—or in a few weeks. Yes, forgiveness on everyone’s part, including God’s, may be instant, but the fruit of proven character takes time to be regrown. Failure disqualifies, and requalification takes time. Is Restoration Possible?

Just as some wou ld too readily return a fallen spiritual leader to ministry, there are other sincere believers who would say such failure disqualifies him from ever returning to leadership. What does the Bible say? It is fa r ea sier to adm in istrate a prohibition than to minister a restoration. Yet t here is no biblica l justification for rejecting the proposition that redemption a nd restoration may recover fruit lost in the greatest tragedy. “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,” Joel prophesies (Joel 2:25). His movement through the list of insects that ransacked and stripped the fields bare, and then his holding forth the promise of recovered fruitfulness by the restoring grace of God, are words that heralded the age of the Holy Spirit. We live in that age today. A nd it is prec isely because we do—because we are living in a time when the Holy Spirit is moving so

But there is no instant cultivation of character. People still need to grow in g race a nd in the k nowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. It takes time to, “giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Pet. 1:5-7). T h at i s t he bel ie ver’s c a l l to discipleship—to the disciplines of a fullhearted follower of Jesus. And thus, when a leader falls, if he will submit himself to spiritual discipline under the care of other elders who will love, serve and assist his restoration through their care and kindness, discipline will be realized. As I stated before, the discipline of time is about healing and mending, not punishment. And the one who accepts that discipline becomes a disciple again at a fresh point of beginning—forgiven and cleansed and ready for the process of recovery. Let us never doubt that by God’s Holy Spirit and in accordance with His Word, such a recovery can be complete. How Much Time?

At the bottom line, the practical question of “calendaring restoration” comes under inquiry. What length of time is required? How much time is needed? Who is to say, set and monitor the time?

What does the Bible say about the matter? Some conclude that the Bible has spoken on the subject. They cite David’s adultery, Jonah’s running and Peter’s denial as biblical precedents arguing for an unbroken continuance of leadership, if not a short time of recompense for restoration. In the absence of an explicit biblical directive regarding the amount of time necessary for restoration, what guidelines do we have? I think there are three. First, beware of any preoccupation with too quick a return. Such a disposition by the fallen one probably signals a resident presumption or shallow repentance, and such a disposition by those sincerely wanting to affirm the fallen usually indicates an immature perspective on the nature and requirements of spiritual leadership. Second, beware of overlooking the depth of the fallen’s injury. One of the most human responses in the world is to attempt a sudden scrambling to your feet when you have been embarrassed by

having slipped or fallen. Spiritual leaders usually fall as the result of both. Th ird, bewa re of u n ilatera l or “pop” methods of reinstatement. Selfannouncement is not the biblical pathway to leadership. Irrespective of what terminology one employs or which form of church government he acknowledges, the Bible shows that all ministry is to be confirmed by “a presbytery”; that is, a group of elders who (1) who meet the requirements of character and conduct qualifications; and (2) are committed to lay hands on and endorse only others who do. It would be pretentious for any group or denomination to suppose they had mastered the issue of how much time restoration requires; but it would be equally foolish and presumptuous for any individual to resist the accumulated wisdom of years reflected in the decision-making of such groups and to arrogantly suppose his own personal system to be superior. It is not without reason that so many

groups recommend or require from one to even four or five years for the recovery of fallen leaders. More and more are accepting a greater responsibility for caring for their fallen: providing transitional financial assistance, expenses for counseling, personal support groups and guidance toward recovery. The strength of this development in the larger body of Christ is in both the Christ-like care it shows and the biblical value being served: time for restoration—time that is not only required but a lso filled w ith redemptive action. Note: This is an excerpt from Jack Hayford’s book, “Restoring Fallen Leaders.” Copyright Jack W. Hayford, used by permission. Originally published by Regal Books, 1988.  A former senior editorial adviser of Ministry Today, J a c k H a y f o r d is the founding pastor of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, Calif., and founder of The King’s University.

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A Cry For



Heal Your Servant has become not only a safe haven for pastors who have fallen, but also a launch pad for restoration


e live on the cusp of what potentially could be the greatest revival ever known in the history of mankind. However, statistics indicate that attendance and finances are at a modern-day low in the church.

Humanity is crying out for authenticity in ministry. The problem is that many ministers seeking guidance simply do not trust Christians. They find themselves in the midst of a unique paradox. They serve a very real God whose Son suffered the supreme sacrifice to redeem mankind. The price has been paid, and God has raised up imperfect men to bring in His harvest. Nevertheless, many believe that salvation and one’s calling both depend on one’s performance and not on the cross. Within the ministerial ranks resides tremendous frustration. Statistics from the Barna Group reveal that 1,500 ministers leave the ministry each month, never to return. These are individuals whom God has called. He knew their inadequacies when He called them. A Barna Group study found that 38 percent of those in the ministry have committed adultery, and 77 percent admit to having a failing marriage. According to Dr. Ted Roberts’ Pure Desire Ministries, as many as 74 percent are addicted to Internet

38 MinistryToday January // February 2014

pornography. Most leave the ministry because of moral failure or deep frustration. Why have so many simply thrown in the towel? What is going wrong? People fashion an image that no human is able to imitate. They can’t live up to the common perception that a servant of Christ must be a spiritual superman. They may say, “My colleagues all appear to live above the fray. It must be me.” The lack of candidness keeps them from the very things they need— authenticity and deliverance. As the adversary lies in wait, disillusionment signals him to prepare his trap of isolation. God’s man now gives in to the deception and becomes a master at covering his sin—or so he thinks. He has seen how others have been treated when their faults were exposed. Rather than facing the public disgrace and allowing God to do an emancipating work when personal sin is unearthed, many today protect themselves via the avenue of

Š istockphoto/urbancow

“lawyering up.” Though this flawed methodology may save a career, it also ensures that this individual will suffer in his personal sin indefinitely. The first step in attaining true liberty is to find a safe place to simply “confess.” Many who have attempted to do so in the past have met an ill fate. They have confided in someone whom they felt they could trust. All too often, the individual to whom they have disclosed their deepest sin has responded with exposure and wrath. This means of dispensing judgment for sinful conduct gained its media precedent w it h bot h t he Ji m my Swaggart and the Jim Bakker scandals. Rather than choosing to be redemptive, society chose to inflict shame and degradation. Along with the media, the enemy used those incidents to attempt to drive the nail into the church’s coffin. God’s intention is that the church is perceived as a place for flawed humanity to run to and find His mercy. Instead, the world perceives the church as a hate group. How can this potentially fatal error be corrected? Can a minister get back on track when he has done the unthinkable? Helping Pastors Heal

This is where the ministry of Heal Your Servant (HYS) comes in. Part of the ministry’s purpose is to provide the first step on the path of liberation for anyone who desires it. Hea l You r Ser va nt of fers fou r confidential call-in sessions per week. God’s servants can anonymously contact us and be absolutely honest regarding their sin. It offers them a pathway for complete deliverance. Ever y step is completely confidential. When a pastor does call in, he is offered a grace-filled plan of restoration that includes his spouse and congregation. T he s t a f f of H Y S h a s he a rd stories of individuals who struggle with pornography, lust, adultery, same-sex attraction, divorce and an array of other issues. It has received calls from bishops, pastors, evangelists, worship leaders, missionaries, youth pastors, children’s leaders and even a church custodian. In the last year, H YS has been bombarded with a litany of phone calls, 40 MinistryToday January // February 2014

"God's intention is that the church is perceived as a place for flawed humanity to run and find His mercy."

emails and letters from more than 1,700 ministers in 722 cities in 69 nations. More than 1,300 have come from the United States. Most are broken, angry with themselves, and humiliated and don’t know where to turn. Heal Your Servant has become a shelter from the storm of judgment, says therapist and author Dr. Fred Antonelli. “Life can be challenging and even downright emotionally devastating at times,” Antonelli says. “Heal Your Servant is a compassionate, agape-centered ministry geared to the weak, beatup, wounded and painfully burdened people [who] are shuffling along on feet of clay. HYS is a safe place to land.” Stephen Arterburn, author of the bestseller, “Every Man’s Battle,” agrees. “Heal Your Servant is an amazing ministry of hope in the storm and help in the struggle,” he said. “If you are struggling in ministry and need to talk to someone who can understand, call today.” Below is a sample of some of the testimonies HYS has received: Pastor Mike says: “I have pastored for 15 years. I had never before been unfaithful to my wife. The pressures of ministry had placed a great division between my wife and me. We were both so busy with God's work that we neglected each other. “I met a woma n on l i ne. T h is relationship had developed slowly, and we had made the decision to meet in the Caribbean for the sole purpose of consummating our adulterous affair. I told my wife I was going on a ministry trip. »


HOMOSEXUALITY . .. Is it a defining issue or a distracting battle? Is it a core issue of Christian belief? A matt er of doctrinal fidelity? Or is homosexuality essentially a question of human rig hts-the current hotspot in the long battle that has prog ressively g iven f reedom to slaves and worked for equa lity for women and other vict ims of discrimination? Th is is a toug h issue. Biblical Christians affirm the equa lity of all humans created in God's image. We shou ld wo rk to end oppression and inj ustice; we should help everyone enj oy t he f ull freedom of t he Gospel of Jesus Christ. What, t hen, about homosexuality, and homosexual pract ice? In th is short book, Dr. Howa rd Snyder approaches these q uestions w it h both prophetic nerve and pastora l sensit ivity as he invites honest dialogue and authentica lly Christian conversation.


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Howard A. Snyder is the author of twenty books, including The Problem of Wineskins, The Community of the King, and (with Joel Scandrett) Salvation Means Creation Healed. Formerly, he has taught history and theology of mission at Asbury Theological Seminary, served as a Free Methodist missionary in Brazil, and taught or pastored in Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, and Dayton, Ohio. He blogs regulary at SEEDBED SOWS THE WHOLE GOSPEL INTO THE WHOLE WORLD BY UNITING VOICES AROUND A SHARED VISION AND PUBLISHING RESOURCES THAT AWAKEN THE WESLEYAN MOVEMENT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY CHURCH


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“I called in to Heal Your Servant several times, and I just talked. I didn’t call them back for two weeks. When I finally called again I was asked what was going on. “My response was, ‘Well, I did go to the Caribbean, but instead of taking the other woman, I took my wife. I told her everything. “She then admitted to me she had been in an emotional relationship with a nother ma n. We asked for each other’s forgiveness, forgave each other and then had a n a ma zing honeymoon in the Caribbean. Thank you so much for saving my marriage and ministry.’ ” Another individual called the ministry because he had been in a three-year affair with a woman in the church. He was tired David Vigil of hiding it and simply wanted it out in the open. He had developed a love for the woman and contemplated leaving his wife, his children and the church in order to live out his life with the other woman. He was confused. He admitted that his heart was in missions, and he had felt pressured into pastoring. His wife had suspected the affair and was an emotional wreck. After a time of counseling, prayer and deliverance, she forgave him, and they decided to press on. He eventually forgave himself and once again felt worthy of his family. The elders of the church worked very closely with HYS through the entire ordeal. When he completed the process, the elders met with the congregation and invited him back as pastor. He humbly declined the offer and eventually accepted a position as the head of a missions organization. These are only two of the many stories of marriages being mended and ministries being restored through HYS. Returning Leaders to Their Callings

Another purpose of the ministry is to 42 MinistryToday January // February 2014

seek out the 1,500 leaders who leave the ministry every month and bring them back to the place God has called them to be. If there is to be a great harvest, every laborer is needed. The staff at HYS encourages people to let them know who these ministers are and where to find them. Pastor Kris shared his testimony: “I don’t know how you found me. I pastored a wonderful church for 10 ye a r s. It w a s Camelot, but then the devil hit hard and strong and took out my marriage. And when I reached out for help, everyone—I mea n ever yone— turned their back on me and kicked me to the side of the road and left me for dead. It was the most devastating experience a human being could go through. “My wife left me and took our four children. I resigned from my pastoring because I was too devastated to lead my congregation, even though I loved them with all my heart. When I went to minister-friends I thought I could trust and poured my heart out to them, they all walked away because they didn’t want to be associated with someone who was having a ‘failure experience’ because it might tint their ‘success’ appearance. “I went into a spiral of depression and total shock to the point of attempt[ing] suicide twice, and there was no one there. It was and is amazing to me that as ministers, we are on the front lines of battle. Yet when the enemy is able to hit us and wound us, our ‘fellow soldiers,’ instead of reaching out to help us in our wounded condition, turn instead and aim their weapons at us and seemingly ‘finish the job.’ I was amazed that the devil wounded me, but it was my brothers in Christ [who] finished me off. “It is interesting that there is an organization that is reaching out to our wounded veterans coming home from war named ‘Wounded Warriors,’ yet we don’t do anything for our wounded

warriors [in the church]. They [the veterans] tell the stories of how they were hit with a roadside bomb and it blew their legs or arms off. I have sat with tears down my face saying to myself, ‘I know what that is like, only my wounds were unseen, but just as painful and life changing.’ God bless your ministry.” W hy does H YS seek out these wounded pastors? The ministry has chosen to be obedient in recognizing and honoring a precious calling. “Hea l You r S er va nt e x i st s to encourage the fallen leader,” says bestselling author Max Lucado. “They step in when others have stepped back.” God Uses Imperfect People

“The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). We all understand that the specificity of this text refers to Israel. It also refers to the nature and character of God. He is not frivolous regarding whom He calls. He places a holy calling on unholy individuals. The cross and His grace are the only things that brand us as His own. He knows the human frailties of those called into ministry. He knows their imperfections. He also knows that greed, lust and envy will pervade their very beings. My dea r f r iend Rut h Gra ha m (daughter of Billy Graham) brings home the truth that God has a history of calling and using flawed individuals to do His work: “What would the biblical history be without Abraham? King David? Peter? “What if God had disqualified them for service because of their failures? It would be a sad, thin narrative indeed. God in His mercy and grace included rascals in the biblical story to encourage us because we are all fallen and flawed. And in His grace He fits us for service. “God loves to redeem the broken. He creates order out of chaos—He began that in Genesis and still does. He doesn’t stop at ruins; that’s where He begins. That is why Heal Your Servant is a ministry whose time has come. The church must be a model of the nature of God!” It is true; many of the great leaders of the church through the ages have been associated with some sort of scandal.

This does not disqualify them. In many cases, God uses their encounter along with His mercy and grace to refine them. Called to Restoration

If we truly are “the body” of Christ and parts of our body are wounded, it’s imperative that we rush to protect and heal those parts that are sickly. It is our responsibility to get them healed. Galatians 6:1-3 gives us a very clear perspective on how to distinguish those who are truly God’s servants in such a time: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” This Scripture ver y clearly indicates how God’s man will instinctively respond. The most spiritual among us will be those who run to restore. Jesus dealt with this same issue when confronting the woman caught in adultery. He exchanged our concept of “accountability to” for that of His concept of “accountability for.” He took personal responsibility for the woman. And after driving away the accusers, He spoke words of forgiveness and healing. “Falling in a moral pit or getting stuck in a slew of despondency is just one of the realities of living in a fallen world,” says Randy Frazee, senior minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. “Here’s good news—you don’t have to stay there. Heal Your Servant offers a safe, grace-filled, confidential way to experience freedom again.” Those who have truly tasted the mercy and grace of God are always the first to run to the aid of a fallen comrade. For those who have a tendency to judge and condemn another man’s sin, I have one simple question: “If your most fatal flaw were made public, would you still be allowed in ministry?” It’s something to think about. D a v i d V i g i l is CEO and founder of Heal Your Servant. His life focus is to serve those who have been called of God and see to it that they are free to be exactly what they have been designed to be. January // February 2014 MinistryToday   43


The Co$t of Integrity A guide for healthy ministry that will help you to remain real and stay accountable


y heart broke recently as I watched Pastor Ron Ca rpenter  pour out his heart in his weekend  message to his congregation. It was a gut-wrenching experience to hear him share with his church the devastating pain his family has endured during the past 10 years and the incredibly difficult future they now face. I have never met Ron, but my heart and prayers go out to him. I can’t imagine the anguish of sharing the most awful parts of your private life with hundreds of friends and thousands of strangers. This is a time when we put aside theological differences and preconceptions and pray for a man and a family wrecked by the effects of evil. Seeing Ron expose his heart and soul to his congregation reminded me of several hard-earned lessons from a lifetime of ministry. These lessons are not about Ron Carpenter or

44 MinistryToday January // February 2014

BY GEOFF SURRATT Redemption World Outreach Center. I don’t know anything about Ron, his leadership or the structure of his church. Rather, these are lessons learned from 31 years of vocational ministry, from growing up a thirdgeneration pastor’s kid, from watching 30 members of my extended family in active ministry, and from interacting with hundreds of pastors and leaders across the country. 1. I n t e g r i t y : A m I r e a l ? “Integrity” means “being complete or undivided.” Though all pastors stress the importance of integrity, there is a temptation in ministry for a leader to create an onstage image that is different from who he really is. Very few set out to be two different people; it just happens. This is an incredibly dangerous road to go down. I’ve seen a couple of iterations of this tendency to project an idealized leader for public consumption.

In one version, the leader creates a more polished image of himself. He is incredibly happy, has a well-adjusted family and lives a super-desirable lifestyle. He faces challenges and temptations, but he always overcomes in the end. The implied message is that if his followers will emulate his faith, they too can live a charmed life. Soc ia l med ia ha s made t h i s temptation into an art. The leader tweets about his “smokin’ hot” wife, his incredible kids and the constant spiritual breakthroughs he achieves. He creates a life everyone wishes he had. In reality, it’s a life the leader wishes he had as well. In the second version, the leader creates a more raw version of himself. He talks about a crisis of faith he never really had. He embellishes college stories to better match those of his congregation. He exaggerates family challenges to sound more like

the real-life stuff his followers deal with every day. This version of the leader requires that he hide a relatively innocent youth as well as the luxuries ministry success has afforded him. He must feign humility even when he doesn’t feel humble. The message to the church is, “You can follow me because I’m just like you.” Authentic ministry requires one version of you. You may be a little more refined in public, but people who know you should be able to say you’re the same guy on stage as you are at the ballgame. 2. Transparency: Am I human? “Transparency” means “able to be seen through.” Integrity says “what you see is what you get” wh i le transparency says “what you see is a normal human being.” Transparent, human leaders get tired, discouraged and frustrated. They’re not always sure where to go or what to do next. They don’t have fairytale marriages, and their kids sometimes (all the time) exasperate them. They worry about their finances and their health and how they’re going to care for their parents when the time comes. They have been called into a position of public ministry, but they’re just ordinary humans. Bei ng t ra nspa rent about ou r hu ma n it y mea ns ad m it t i ng we sometimes struggle in our marriage, feel clueless as parents and wrestle with balancing our faith with our doubt. Transparency says the human condition is universal. 3. Vulnerability: Am I broken? “Vulnerable” means “capable of being wounded or hurt.” We are creating a version of Christianity that says the true believer, if he follows the right plan or practices the right disciplines, will inch closer to spiritual perfection. The goal is to be a mature believer who almost never sins and who, if he does, commits just minor offenses such as forgetting to leave a tip or sighing out loud in line at Walmart. © istockphoto/Squaredpixels

Leading the parade is the pastor who proclaims he has overcome the sin he used to struggle with and is now nearing heavenly nirvana. He might have been saved by grace, but he has worked his way to true holiness. This in spite of all the biblical evidence to the contrar y. David seduces Bathsheba and murders Uriah long after writing Psalm 23. Peter succumbs to hypocrisy, refusing to eat with Gentiles, years after leading Cornelius to faith. The healthy leader says w ith integrity, “There is only one version of me”; with transparency, “I am only human”; and with vulnerability, “I have broken parts in my life. I am growing spiritually, but like you, I struggle with sin every day.” 4. Accountability: Am I under authorit y ? “Accountable” means “responsible, answerable.” I have not seen a leader fail or crumble who has a small circle of friends to whom he is accountable—friends who know his family, his background, his sins and his failures; friends who call him out on his stuff and have permission to remove him from his position of leadership if necessary. An accountability group works only if the leader is honest with those in the group. If he isn’t real, transparent and vulnerable with them, they are of little value. If, however, this is a group of peers he trusts with his life, they will likely catch him before his world comes crashing down. A danger here is the illusion of accountability. A pastor will point to a board of overseers, deacons or elders as his accountability group, or he may say denominational oversight provides his safeguard. Normally, however, the accountability at this level is surface. The pastor rarely shares his intimate challenges and sins with an appointed boa rd. They have the power to discipline or remove, but they don’t live in the daily details. B oa rd accou nt a bi l it y i s l i ke floodgates on a dam; it is the last

line of defense. True accountability happens in a sma ller circle at a deeper level. Living It Out

A final note on living out these four ideas: Not everything is appropriate to share at every level. It is as unhealthy to dump your garbage on your neighbor’s lawn as it is to hide it in your basement. Though a healthy leader has integrity, tra nspa renc y, v u lnerabi lit y a nd accountability at every level, he also understands what should be revealed at every level of leadership. The leader’s small circle of friends has open access to his life. Nothing is off limits. They help him determine what is appropriate to share at the other levels. The overseers have access to the general outline but not necessarily the details. The staff has a clear picture of the leader’s life without information that could hurt or embarrass others (for example, the staff leadership team may know the pastor is struggling at home but doesn’t k now t he specific challenge). The congregation knows enough to understand the overall picture of the pastor’s life. If a pastor has been real with the congregation and his son is arrested for possessing or dealing drugs, the members won’t be shocked. They knew the pastor was struggling with a family issue; they just didn’t know which family member or the specific issue. This article is not aimed at any pastor nor is it a blueprint for growing a church. It is a guide for healthy ministry that will help you project a true image of who you are to those around you. When you are honest with yourself and others, you will be more likely to succeed.  G e o f f S u r r a t t is the director of Exponential, an organization whose mission is accelerating the multiplication of healthy, reproducing churches. He is the coauthor of The Multi-Site Church Revolution. January // February 2014 MinistryToday   45

Lust is one of Satan’s strongest tools against believers. Here’s how to build a firewall for your own good.



he Bible teaches, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It also tells us to turn away from those who are led by various lusts (see 1 Tim.3:5-6). Many great people in God have fallen into fleshly temptations and potentially ruined their lives and ministries. One person has said, “It takes a lifetime to build integrity and a minute to lose it.” This is a true saying! I believe one of the most important reasons leaders fall is that most have never intentionally set up mental and emotional firewalls. By “firewall,” I mean something that acts as a barrier so that the temptation does not easily penetrate the heart. Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to guard our heart because out of it flow the issues of life. Most people have no firewalls set up; thus, as soon as a strong temptation comes their way, the only thing stopping them from sinning is their own will power, which is based on the spiritual and emotional condition they are in at the moment of the test. In order for the enemy to trip me up and get me to fall into adultery or other forms of sexual sin, he would have to get through not only my will power but also five layers of firewalls I have set up to protect my soul.


No firewall is foolproof, of course. The primary way to resist temptation is to be in the strength of the Lord, as Ephesians 6:10-13 teaches. However, there are times we may not be at a high level of spiritual and emotional strength or times when we are caught off guard. Firewalls are something the Holy Spirit can use to further strengthen our resolve. The following are some of the firewalls I have set up: 1. Maintaining intimate fellowship with the Lord. By far, the most important relationship I have in my life is my friendship and covenant with the Lord. I told the Lord when I first started in ministry that I would never allow the ministry to be so consuming that I did not have time to pray and walk in His manifest presence. The main reason we were born is to grow in the knowledge of and relationship with the Lord, and I never want to exchange my walk with Him for any earthly pleasure (see Eph. 4:30). 2. Maintaining the trust my spouse and children have in me. Besides my commitment to the Lord, the greatest call and joy of my life is caring for the family God has entrusted to me. Before I fall into temptation, I will think about the commitment I have to my wife and remind myself that I do not want to devastate her. I will also consider that I never want to do anything to destroy the way my children view me and possibly hurt their view of the Lord and His church. Our greatest legacy will be the life we lead, which is the inheritance we pass on to our children’s children (see Prov. 13:22). I want my legacy to include leaving a generational blessing to my biological family that will continue to speak after I am long gone (see Heb. 11:4). 3. Staying true to the purpose of God and His call on my life. I believe a person can derail his purpose and the call of God on his life by the choices he makes. I have worked more than 35 years to fulfill His call, and I do not want to blow it for momentary pleasure. 4. Setting a good example for my spiritual sons and daughters. I have only five biological children, but I have many close spiritual sons and daughters. I have

© istockphoto/SDenisov/jetFoto/dundanim

seen and read about how church members and spiritual children become disillusioned with the things of God because of their leader’s failure. Of course, I have also seen incredible restoration and transformation in the lives of fallen leaders because they repented and climbed back up the mountain of their great calling from God. The bottom line is, people need to put their eyes on Jesus more than on their leaders. But I do not want to allow foolishness in fleshly pursuit on my part to place a stumbling block in others’ lives. 5. Maintaining the integrity of the gospel before the world. The last and one of the most important firewalls I have is to maintain the integrity of the gospel before the world. I do not want to bring shame to God or His Word. The more influence I have, the more temptations and tests I will experience, so I need to have these five firewalls up perpetually and to continually inspect them to make sure there are no cracks in them. The fleshdriven scandals of the 1980s set back the reputation of the evangelical church in this nation for many decades, and I do not want to set back the gospel in my family, community or city. I speak about the need to have firewalls in my life because I know that, like all other humans, I am fragile and born with a wicked and sinful nature, and that I have to watch and pray lest I fall into temptation (see Matt. 26:41). Part of the way I “watch” is to construct and maintain these firewalls. But unless I pray and walk in the presence and power of the Spirit, no amount of firewalls will be able to protect me from my wicked flesh.  J o s e p h M a t t e r a is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church, Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

January // February 2014 MinistryToday   47



The Multicultural Body of Christ Work for the kingdom knows no racial boundaries

48 MinistryToday January // February 2014

justice, and often themselves committing acts of violence and aggression toward them. As a result, their oppressors feel like victims of injustice and cry out for justice. And on and on. “Only the cross of Christ can break this cycle—even though seeking justice seems righteous and justifiable and worthwhile. For only by bringing our pain to the cross of Jesus and leaving it there for Jesus to handle will any of us ever find real and lasting peace.” These are profound words. The default mode of any victim of oppression must be to rely on God’s ultimate vindication and justice. Both parties benefit when we invest in others who are different from us. I know this is true because people outside my culture, context and heritage invested in me. It was at the intersection of two cultures that we both learned more about the other person—as well as learning about ourselves. We learned what is appropriate, what is funny, what is offensive. But most of all, we learned to overlook our mistakes, forgive and move beyond. Interestingly, my curent pastoral staff is a mixture of different backgrounds, ethnicities and races. Most of my staff of 13 pastors and interns are non-Asian. We have a ratio of 60/40 (white/Asian). By living in community together, we learn that though our backgrounds may differ, at the core we are essentially the same. Continuing the Journey

I realize my experience of being a recipient of much grace from the larger and broader white evangelical community may not be normative for many Asian-Americans. Some may have experienced constant oppression, intentional or unintentional, from the majority culture. My encouragement to all of us is to demonstrate lives of humility and grace and, while being conformed to the image of Christ, to love and serve one another. Partnership as co-laborers in Christ for the sake of the gospel will ultimately bring about true unity and racial harmony. R a y C h a n g is the founding president of Orange County, Calif.based Ambassador Network, an organization working to launch a movement of multiplying, multiethnic and missional churches.

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have had the opportunity to serve the Lord in a number of capacities during my life. I am a Korean-American, evangelical Christian pastor who has been empowered significantly by the majority culture of the American evangelical church, and the support has been a blessing throughout my time as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though I realize that not every Asian-American has experiences like mine, I think we can agree that the body of Christ would be better if we were all willing to invest in one another. Each of us is a byproduct of the people who have invested in us. I believe that to move forward in our multicultural society, we must remember four truths as we work together for the kingdom: Christ and His gospel are our primary focus. It’s critical to keep the main thing the main thing. Our racial and ethnic identity is a part of who we are, and it is to be celebrated. However, we must not lose sight of God’s mission of making disciples of all ethnic groups—all people. This mission is what unites us. Though we are created in the Imago Dei (image of God), we are all fallen. We all have the same need to be loved, to believe and to become. But we are also fallen people who are in desperate need of a Savior. Our culture and ethnic background color our perspectives, but at the core we are part of the same fallen humanity. This means we must treat one another with grace and forgiveness, especially when we see things differently. We are called to walk in grace and humility. Whenever race becomes an issue of injustice, there are no winners, as Ken Fong, senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles, makes clear: “When I was at the Urbana 2000 speakers’ retreat [in 1999], we all got a chance to hear from the new apologist for our upcoming missions conference. I believe his last name was something like Raminchandra. He was the former top nuclear physicist for Sri Lanka, I believe, but was now serving as the head of the IFES movement in that part of the world [InterVarsity outside of North America]. “He told us that our greatest apologetic is the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. ‘The pursuit of justice,’ he said, ‘will never result in lasting peace.’ Why? Because those who have been wronged will pursue their oppressors, calling for


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Creating Ministry Excellence on a Small Budget Limited financial resources shouldn’t limit your ministry’s effectiveness


hen we began planting Grace Hills Church, we didn’t have the quarter of a million dollars that some church plants in America start out with. In fact, we had a lot less than that, so we had to figure out how to hack some things together, and I’m convinced the methods we used made us stronger. We learned to do the very best we could with what we had, and we’re still doing that. A lack of resources is merely an opportunity to be creative.

generous. Your budget woes are usually temporary if you’re effectively discipling people, except in an economic downturn. When it comes to raising funds, I believe it’s important to understand your financial values. For example, at Grace Hills: hh We believe giving is a discipleship issue, so we make no apology for calling on those who have committed themselves to our covenant to invest in the vision. hh We believe it is essential to handle money ethically, so we outsource all our bookkeeping and avoid allowing pastors to touch money whenever possible. hh We believe in taking risks in faith, thinking big and thinking ahead for God’s glory. Staffing With a Tiny Budget

The first thing we had to do was clarify our values concerning excellence, and we came up with a short list. These are not an official statement—just random thoughts that guided some of our early decisions: hh We do things with excellence for God’s glory. hh We refuse to make an idol of excellence—excellence isn’t the goal; disciples are. hh We refuse to allow the pursuit of excellence to hold us back. hh We will learn from models, valuing effectiveness over originality. We don’t need credit; we need life. hh We will be a model, sharing our excellence with others, and share what we’re learning from both failure and success.

Promoting on a Budget

Direct mail works well in some locations and not at all in others. Either way, it’s expensive. Use social media to the maximum. Beyond advertising and promotion is good oldfashioned service to the community, which is often cheap or free and speaks more loudly than a well-designed piece of marketing material. At the end of it all, do the best you can with what God provides for His glory! 

Faith-Raising in a Church Plant

I hate fundraising and donor development, but I love faith-raising. When giving is an issue of discipleship, we have nothing to fear in teaching a young church how to become 50 MinistryToday January // February 2014

B r a n d o n C o x has been a pastor for 15 years and is currently planting Grace Hills Church in northwest Arkansas, sponsored by Saddleback Church and other strategic partners.

Shutterstock/Lisa S

The Values of Excellence

It’s easy to overstaff, but it’s dangerous to understaff. I’m a big believer in staffing ahead of growth. Early on, we wanted to expand our staff as quickly as possible, but we obviously couldn’t afford to pay a large number of full-time salaries. Here are some creative solutions we discovered: Seek passionate people. Passionate people don’t have to be paid large salaries. They recognize the privilege of doing what others would love to do for free. Ask for volunteers. One of the things that impressed me most when I was on staff at Saddleback Church was the number of people who volunteered. They were working 20 to 40 hours because they believed in the vision of the church. Many staff members started as full-time volunteers. Develop disciples and hire the best. To put it another way, hire from within whenever possible. Use multiple part-time staffers. Today it’s possible for talented people to innovate when it comes to earning a living, especially in the entrepreneurial atmosphere of a new church plant. We are two years in with a staff of six, and none of us is considered full-time.

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3 Ways to Enhance Your Time With Students

Large meetings are great, but one-on-one time with youth is critical for their growth

52 MinistryToday January // February 2014

2. Use discernment. Every time you get the opportunity to talk one-on-one with a student, consider it a golden moment. I’ve learned that you can burn that moment very quickly if you are not discerning of when to push the student and when to let an issue go. Every conversation doesn’t have to be a come-to-Jesus moment. Again, sometimes small talk is all that’s needed , but you need to be able to discern that. You also need to be able to discern when a student needs to hear t he t r ut h of G od ’s Word. 3 . P r ay w i t h t hem . This sounds like a nobra i ner, but I don’t t h in k we ca n stress this enough. What we pray for with our students sends a sig na l concerning what God cares about. If we only pray about the big stuff w ith them, then we are modeling that God only cares about the big stuff. God cares about the test they have that’s st ressi ng t hem out. God cares about students performing at their best for a game that they have. He cares about it all. We need to model that to them. So include all areas in which you can pray for them. I often hear people say that God’s got bigger things in this world to care about than their little situations. I wonder who modeled such a small view of God to them. There are certainly more tips for improving your oneon-one time with students, but I wanted to hone in on the top three things that helps me get the most out of the time I spend with students. I have a lot of fun hanging with students, but I also know they need more than just fun. They need Jesus, and that’s the primary assignment God has given us as youth pastors.  A a r o n C r u m b e y oversees pastoral care for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church. He cares deeply about sharing Christ with students and seeing them reach their full potential in Christ.



love the craziness  of large groups where I get to see a bunch a students at once. I love mowing through the crowd, giving hugs and high fives and randomly having greeting tribal dance-offs with students. But another element that I love—one that’s just as important—is having one-on-one time with students where we get to talk about Jesus and life. Unfortunately, many youth workers struggle in this area and aren’t as comfortable with one - on - one i nterac tions as they would like to be. That’s why it’s important that, as a youth pastor, you implement t he fol low i ng t h ree things in your quest to reach your church’s teens. These are a few things I’ve learned that have helped me in oneon-one situations. 1. Take control. Even though you want the student to share more than you, take control and facilitate. You will probably start off making small talk, which is great and sometimes the only thing needed; but sometimes you’ll want to guide the conversation to an area in which they need guidance or prayer. I’ve fou nd t hat st udents ex pec t you to st i r t he conversation. I’ve also learned that my influence in their life grows when I show genuine concern for their lives. Here’s an example of something I’ll do: Instead of just asking them how life is going for them, I’ll ask them to take a seat and then I’ll be specific about the areas I want to hear about. You’ll be surprised with the response you get. If a student doesn’t don’t have time, I’ll say, “great, let’s get together this week, “I’ll catch you on Facebook.” Then I’ll leave a message with specific questions for that student to answer. Again, you will be surprised at the response. Just a word of caution, however: When communicating over social media, always think about context. My rule of thumb is to communicate as if their parents are sitting right by their side as they read what you’re sending.

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Why Your Physical Health Matters to Your Spirit Here’s a reminder that the Bible is full of health rules and guidelines to follow


s pastors, we tend to like to focus on “spiritual” things. “‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered But God is the Creator of our physical bodies, and it’s by anything. ‘Food is for the stomach and the stomach for in our physical bodies that we live out our spiritual food’—but God will destroy them both.” The point that Paul lives before others. makes is that eating is not an end in itself. We eat to live; We pastors have a tendency to let we don’t live to eat. It’s a means, our physical health go unchecked, not an end in itself. If we get those and we have plenty of excuses reversed, food becomes our master. such as our busy schedules, our calendars being heavy with meal3. Commit yourself to a regular centered meetings, and our need exercise program. Most of us are conto be behind a desk a lot to feed vinced but not committed. You people spiritually. know that exercise would be good For every excuse we can come up for you, but committing to it seems with to ignore our physical health, hard. First Timothy 4:8 says, “Physthere are other pressing reasons to ical training is of some value.” In consider it: Paul’s day, people were very active. hh Our longevity in ministry can If Paul wrote that verse today, he’d be cut short by poor health. probably change it to say that it has hh Our sharpness of mind is great value. In the New Testament affected by what we eat and our times, people walked everywhere, activity level. engaged in a lot more manual labor hh We challenge others to live and ate natural foods. Today we healthy lives, so we should set drive everywhere, live sedentary the example with our physical R i c k W a rr e n is the founding pastor of Saddleback lives and eat processed junk foods. well-being. The key is training, not straining. Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s larghh Our physica l energ y level est and most influential churches. His latest book, The If you want to get in shape fast, exerrises to the demands of ministry if Daniel Plan, released this month. Rick is author of the cise longer, not harder. Commit we’re in shape. yourself to a regular exercise proNew York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. hh Ou r bod ies a re temples, gram. Even a daily walk will make a created by the Master Craftsmen and placed under our difference. The fact is, your body was not designed for inactivstewardship. ity. You were made to be active. The Bible is full of health rules and guidelines. Here are five principles from God’s Word about building a healthy body— 4. Get enough sleep and rest. Psalm 127:2 says, “In vain you rise that apply to leaders too: early and stay up late.” The Living Bible says, “God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest.” Rest is so important that 1. Maintain your ideal weight. Scientists know that you have an God put it in the Ten Commandments. He said that every sevideal weight based on your bone structure and your height. enth day you should rest. Jesus, in Mark 6:30-32, insisted that First Thessalonians 4:4 says, “‘Each of you should learn to His disciples take a vacation. Budget your time wisely. control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” (NIV). I realize there are many medical and glandular reasons 5. Live in harmony with God. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at for weight problems, but the fact is that for many of us, we sim- peace gives life to the body.” Our emotions have a tremendous ply eat too much. effect on our physical health, just like our physical health has a tremendous effect on our emotions. You cannot fill your life 2. Balance your diet. You need to focus on controlling both the with guilt, worry, anger and fear and expect to be in optimum quality and quantity of what you eat. Do you eat a balanced health. A heart at peace gives life to the body. If you feel bad, it diet, with a hamburger in both hands? I was on a seafood affects every area of your life. It’s a part of stewardship. Your diet—if I see it, I get to eat it. First Corinthians 6:12-13 says, body is a gift from God. What are you going to do with it?  54 MinistryToday January // February 2014

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The Most Neglected Teaching in the Church The church is losing credibility because of the lack of practiced discipline


hurch discipline may be the most neglected teaching fellowship: “Do not associate with him, in order that he in the church today. It’s seldom practiced. may feel ashamed” (2 Thess. 3:14). No one likes to confront a person who is living Oddly, the one who does the confronting is often the one in sin. I’ve never heard of a church leader who loves being who is made to feel ashamed. Those close to the one being on t he d iscipl i ne com m it tee. disciplined will cha rge, “W ho It’s so difficult to confront and are you to judge?” “Do you think legally risky to discipline that it’s you’re blameless?” “What a selfsomewhat like getting wisdom righteous hypocrite you are!” teeth removed: We delay it as long The church leaders are even as possible. accused of “shooting their own Since we’re hesitant to teach w o u n d e d .” B u t c o n f r o nt i n g and practice discipline, members a si n ner is not shoot i ng t he of t he body of Ch rist l ive i n wou nded ; it’s t r y i ng to pre i m mora l it y, a re decept ive i n vent fat a l it ies. It’s remov i ng business, treat others with a mean the bullet and disinfecting the spirit, or use language that is an wou nd. Ju st a s w i se pa rent s embarrassment to the kingdom may say to a rebellious child, of God—without ever hearing a “I love you too much to let you word of reprimand. As a result, behave this way,” so compassionthe church loses credibility. ate church leaders must refuse Second Thessalonians 3:14-15 to a llow f lag rant, continuous, is one of several New Testament unchristian behavior to go on. passages that command the local The purpose of discipline is chu rch to practice discipline. B o b R u s s e l l is the retired senior pastor of South- to motivate repentance and to “If a nyone does not obey our east Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., a church he prevent f ut u re t ra nsg ressions instruction in this letter, take spe- led for 40 years. He now focuses on mentoring pastors in others. That’s why the sincial note of him. Do not associate while teaching and speaking around the country. His ner is to be isolated. Those who with him, in order that he may feel latest project, Acts of God, a film, small-group study dote over him because they feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him and sermon series by City on a Hill Studio and book sorry for him are enabling sinful as an enemy, but warn him as a by Moody Publishers, will be available beginning in behav ior. Pau l i nst r ucted t he brother” (NIV). February. Visit for a preview or Corinthian church not even to To pa rticipate in the New more information. eat with the man living in incest Testament church automatically (see 1 Cor. 5:11). assumed a commitment to holy living. Any whose lives were The sinner is not to be treated as an enemy but warned flagrantly unrighteous were disciplined by others in the as a brother. There must be civility and compassion, but the body. Second Thessalonians 3 deals with the final stages of church can’t go on as though nothing is wrong. That causes church discipline. The earlier stages are outlined elsewhere us to lose credibility. The church is about truth and holiin Scripture: ness. However, it’s important to remember that the sinner 1. A Christian who is caught in a sin should first be who does repent is to be welcomed back and restored to gently confronted with the anticipation of being restored complete fellowship (see 2 Cor. 2:7). (see Matt. 18:15 and Gal. 6:1). Years ago the church could impress the world with 2. If the disobedient person refuses to repent, he is to be excellent programming. In light of the current scandals confronted by two or three witnesses (see Matt. 18:16). and accusations of immorality against church leaders, 3. If there still is no restoration, the issue is to be brought the church must be a place of integrity and authenticity before the church (see Matt. 18:17). to get a hearing. That includes the disciplining of those The church member who disregards these efforts and who wa nder away from their fa ith a nd deliberately continues to live in flagrant sin is to be isolated from the continue sinning. 

56 MinistryToday January // February 2014


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7 Deadly Thoughts of Leaders

The warning signs are there, and the next step of action is all about character

Most great leadership failures, however, don’t begin with a stupid action. The leader usually has thoughts about the action well before he or she actually takes it. Some of those thoughts can be warning signs to heed. They are like the bright red light of a traffic signal that demands we stop. Failure to stop can result in great harm. I’ve had the opportunity through the years to listen to leaders talk about their biggest victories and their greatest failures. In discussing the latter, these leaders reflect that, most of the time, the failures began with a deadly thought pattern. They lament that they didn’t recog nize the da ngerous thoug hts for the wa rnings they were. Chuck Lawless, the dea n of Graduate St udies at Southeastern Seminary in North Carolina, says leaders establish appropriate boundaries to maintain their integrity, and that means keeping a reign on their thought patterns. MINISTRY RESOURCE

In The Power of Character in Leadership, you will discover what character is, what it means to develop moral force, and how to preserve your leadership influence so that it is both effective and enduring. 58 MinistryToday January // February 2014

Here are the seven most significant warning thoughts leaders have shared with me: 1. It won’t hurt to compromise a little. So the numbers get fudged a bit. Or the private meeting with someone of the opposite gender is deemed harmless. Or you take credit for something you didn’t do. 2. I can give my family time later in life when I’m more established.  You may not even have a family if you wait until later. Few leaders have ever died wishing they had put more hours into work. Many have died lamenting their failure to give their family time and attention. 3. No one really pays attention to what I do. Wrong! If you are a leader, many people are watching you more closely than you think. In organizations, those under your leadership watch you closely. In families, the children watch the parents with an eye for detail that can be downright humbling. What are they seeing when they watch you? 4. I need to be careful not to rock the boat.  Granted, some people put their mouths in action before their minds are in gear. But many leaders are too risk-averse. They are more worried about failure than proactive leadership. Thus their thought patterns are almost always about playing it safe. 5. I can put off that tough decision until later.  Leaders often think difficult decisions can be put on hold. They suffer from “analysis paralysis,” which serves as an excuse to defer the decisions. This type of thinking leads them to deadly procrastination. 6. That person messed up five years ago. He doesn’t deserve a second chance.  Many driven leaders shared with me that they failed to demonstrate forgiveness and grace in their leadership role. Their thought patterns focused on the failures of those in the organization or family. They “wrote off” these people. Then at a time in their lives when they needed an extra measure of grace or forgiveness, few people were willing to give them what they themselves had failed to give. 7. My main goal is money.  You know the saying “money is not evil; the love of money is.” If leaders’ thought patterns are consumed with money, problems are on the horizon. Money can be an instrument for good or evil. The goal is not to make money but to make a difference with your money.  This article was originally published at T h o m S . R a i n e r serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Dr. Rainer  can be found on Twitter (@ThomRainer) and Facebook (Thom.S.Rainer).


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Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret

Megachurch pastor Larry Osborne talks growth strategy


he senior pastor of North Coast Church in Vista, Calif., for 33 years, Larry Osborne has helped oversee the growth of the church from a fledgling group of 128 meeting in a rented school to a multisite ministry that reaches more than 9,500 in weekend attendance. He took time recently to answer a few questions for Ministry Today: You’ve been a pastor at the same church for more than three decades, and it has grown into a nationally influential and very large congregation. All of your degrees are in theology, not business. So why do business and nonpro f i t leader s se ek you out for advice on growth, change and innovation?

When serial innovators launch a new program or idea, they have both an exit strategy and an implementation strategy. They know that their great ideas aren’t always so great once they are released into the wild. Doesn’t it doom a new idea when you also plan for failure?

Having an exit strategy doesn’t mean that I’m planning for or expecting failure. It simply means that I’m prepared for it. Think of it as an insurance policy. It’s hard to get an insurance policy after disaster strikes. You need to have it in place ahead of time. I’ve never launched a new ministry, program or major change that I didn’t think would work. But I’m hu ma n. I somet i mes misunderstand God’s leading and His timing. Even the apostles did.

Frankly, I was surprised when business leaders fi rst sta r ted coming to me for help and advice, especially since all my experience How does that fit in with faith? and education is in ministry. But D r . L a r r y O s b o r n e has served as senior pastor Fa it h a nd r isk a re not I shouldn’t have been because and teaching pastor at North Coast Church since 1980. synonymous. I think as Christian leadership is leadership, no matleaders we often confuse the two. ter where it’s exercised. ConFaith is trusting God enough to do sider the wise advice of Solomon in Proverbs. It applies far what He says, even if it makes no sense. It’s Abraham’s taking beyond ministry. Isaac up to the mountain. It’s Noah’s building a boat in the middle of nowhere. Your latest book is entitled Innovation’s Dirty Little Risk without God’s clear leading isn’t a step of faith. It’s a Secret. What is that secret? step of presumption. God doesn’t promise to honor our riskIt’s simple. Most innovations fail. They always have. taking. He promises to honor our obedience. They always will. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new church, a new business or a new ministry initiative. Most attempts to How does corporate culture impact the success or failure of an innovation? introduce major change or innovation fail. You’d never know it by the great press that innovation gets. Corporate culture is incredibly important. It either fosters Self-help books, motivational speakers and even Christian and accelerates or sabotages change and innovation. It’s leadership books often send a message that taking great never neutral. For instance, a culture that is excessively riskrisk almost guarantees a great reward. They tell only the averse tends to kill off innovation by demanding proof that success stories. something will work before giving it a try. But there is no way Yet a nyone who ha ng s a rou nd chu rch pla nters, to prove that a genuine innovation will work ahead of time. missionaries, entrepreneurs or change agents knows that Studies show that most people resist change until they see the stories of failure far outnumber the stories of success. it succeed and know who else is for it. I encourage leaders to In fact, the one thing that most sets apart a genuine serial seek permission. It’s much easier to get than buy-in. Lots of innovator from a one-hit wonder is an understanding of people will give you permission to try something as long as this principle. they don’t have to pay for it or support it.  60 MinistryToday January // February 2014

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Why Leaders Should Continue Their Education 10 good reasons for going back to school

62 MinistryToday January // February 2014

recognize the value that continued training offers for their spiritual leaders. 6. Distance learning options allow us to continue our education without leaving our ministry. Gone are the days when gaining an education required students to move to a campus. Today the Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for continued training without evacuating significant ministries. Southeastern Seminary (where I serve) now offers masters and doctoral degrees—including the PhD—that do not require full-time residence in North Carolina. 7. Learning within a group of peers is important. Many opportunities for advanced training include small-group, peer-to-peer learning that focuses on particular aspects of leadership. Few educational options are as valuable as these. Each student brings his or her own knowledge to the classroom, helping to build a community of scholars. 8. We often learn better after leadership experience. Learning apart from practical experience is not insignificant, but it is based on theory rather than life application. Frankly, it’s easy to decide how to be a leader until you actually have to be one. The best students I know are those who have leadership experience that gives them a grid through which to evaluate concepts and programs. These students are those who choose to continue their education throughout their ministries. 9. The discipline of learning is important. Let’s be honest: Leaders sometimes get lazy. We rely solely on yesterday’s learning to face today’s issues. We talk more about what we have read than about what we are reading. Personal preparation for daily ministry becomes more surface review than intense study. Continued education, on the other hand, challenges us to return to rigor and discipline. 10. Continued education stretches our faith. The obstacles to further training are real: too little time, too few dollars, too many years out of school, too many other responsibilities, too great a risk of failure. Here’s the bottom line, though: Sometimes we just have to trust God to help us do what He expects us to do.  C h u c k L a w l e s s serves as dean of the graduate studies at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

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admit I am biased here. I am a seminary dean and professor, and I believe in education. Students help to pay my salary. They have become my friends, my mentees, my children in the faith. Graduates make me proud. My reason for writing this, though, goes beyond the value I place on education in general. I believe that if we are doing the work of God, we must give our absolute best. I desire to be part of a team that trains and sends out the strongest leaders in the world—leaders who make a difference in the kingdom of darkness. Those leaders never stop learning. Here are 10 reasons I believe leaders should continue their education: 1. The Christian life is about growth. We are babies in Christ at new birth yet are called to continual growth and maturity (see Heb. 5:1214). Always, we are to be in the process of God’s conforming us to the image of His Son (see Rom. 8:29). If we reach the point of assuming we’ve “arrived” and need no further training, we are neglecting our Christian responsibility. 2. A willingness to learn is a sign of humility. Education is seldom easy. An openness to becoming a student again, to being held accountable for assignments and to being evaluated by others is a sign of the type of humility all leaders should exhibit. 3. We always face theological issues. The authority of the Word of God, especially when evaluated against sacred documents of other world faiths, continues to be an issue. We must increasingly defend the truth that a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to God. The doctrine of the Trinity is also an issue when evangelizing around the world. Continued education can help prepare us to respond to these types of significant issues. 4. We continue to confront new ethical and moral issues. When I started in ministry more than 30 years ago, I did not imagine ministering in a culture that affirms same-sex marriage. Internet pornography was not available. Never did I envision ministering to Sally, who actually began life as Sam. Issues such as these are not, of course, separated from our theology, and further education equips us to minister in our changing culture. 5. The people we lead are frequently still learning. At least in North America, we often minister to educated parishioners. They are teachers, engineers, physicians and accountants. Many of our congregations include professionals for whom continued education is expected, if not required. Thus, they

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As God called the Levites then, He is now calling a new levitical people to meet Him in the divine bootcamp and prepare for His return. The Levitical Calling teaches you how to navigate your “wilderness” and view the refining fire in a new light. Candace Long is the founder of Creativity Training Institute, based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been in Arts & Entertainment over 40 years: Performer, Writer, Composer, Theatrical Producer, Marketing Consultant, Arts Leader and Marketplace Minister. Former Vice-Chair of Women In Film & Television International, she is the President-Elect for the DCbased National League of American Pen Women. • • • •



Birthing a Church 101

Planting a new church can be as exhilarating as the birth of your first child

Last weekend, I spearheaded a new church in a different state. What I experienced during the preparation process reminded me of the exhilaration I felt while waiting for our first child to be born. And the steps for ensuring a successful beginning to this nascent church paralleled some of what we had to do to prepare for our human progeny. Conception begins the baby’s life; vision is the start of a new church. Babies take nine months to grow through strategic and intricate design modules in order to have the necessary parts to support life; a new church must work through a strategic plan so that the outcome matches the original concept. The DNA of both babies and churches integrates the function of the body in a cohesive manner. The anticipation is exciting,. After the new one (baby or church) appears, you experience joy but also realize that though you have worked hard and waited long, your real work is only beginning. The new church in Norcross, Ga. (outside Atlanta), experienced a marvelous birth. Amazingly, a great crowd of people attended the first Sunday. Some were well-wishers from the mother church, Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery, Ala. But a healthy contingent of Georgians was present as well, checking out who we were and what we might do in the future. 64 MinistryToday January // February 2014

I learned many things during the preparation for that first Sunday, but five essential principles stand out to remember for any future launches: 1. Teamwork makes the dream work. I learned this phrase from leadership expert John Maxwell, and sure enough, I spent a year and a half building the planting team and putting the right spiritual DNA in them. I made sure  the team would gather strength as they persevered through the initial 18 months before launching the church. 2. It won’t get done without the funds. I have started churches before with little to no money and discovered that financial hardship increases the difficulties. Having enough money to do proper advertising and procure needed equipment is truly essential. I believe a test of one’s call to pastor can be whether or not the pastor has a compelling enough vision that people will give toward it. Starting a new church is expensive. Raise the money before you start. 3. Rely on grace but have key components in place. When starting a new church, there are some essentials you don’t want to leave home without. You need an excellent, aesthetically pleasing environment. You must have the capacity for presence-filled worship and a preacher who can actually preach. To draw families, you must provide an outstanding, safe and fun children’s ministry. I delayed our launch until we had each of these components solidly in place with a certain level of excellence. 4. You must pray if you want to stay. Many make the mistake of trying to succeed in God’s work without spending ample time with God. Church-planting is spiritual work, and it requires a great deal of spiritual exercise. Starting a church with a lot of prayer is fascinating. Before launching we prayed—a lot! 5. Do your best and leave the rest. I will never forget the nagging feeling I had Saturday night and Sunday morning before the launch. The team of 60 people I had built did all they knew to do. We prayed, we fasted, we trained, we planned and we raised money. We sent out 110,000 mailers to homes near our launch site. We served the community months before the launch. In spite of all we did, there were no guarantees. So we just rested, saying, “Now it’s up to the Lord.” We rejoiced at the 444 people who showed up that Sunday. So the baby is home from the hospital and now the real work begins. But joy abounds in all our hearts as we excitedly anticipate what God has placed in this baby called Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Norcross, Ga., and how He will use the church to advance His kingdom.  K y l e S e a r c y serves as senior pastor of Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery, Ala., and Norcross, Ga.



hen my wife and I decided to start a family, we diligently prepared to become parents. We read the best books, asked for advice from our most auspicious relatives and mustered our prayer life around what God had in store. And He didn’t disappoint us!

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Broken Discipleship Views and How to Fix Them How the Western church can repair its faulty discipleship models


esus placed discipleship as the heart and the verb of the Great Commission to “make disciples of all nations.” Yet it seems discipleship has fallen on hard times in many churches in the West, where Christians are often not as desperate and committed as their sisters and brothers in the Two-Thirds World. Our discipleship model is broken. I would like to suggest some specific areas where we are broken and hopefully provide some solutions about how to fix them.

  1. We equate discipleship with religious knowledge. While you can’t appropriately grow without seeking more biblical knowledge, many times believers reduce the discipleship process to “Read this. Study this. Memorize this. Good to go.” Instead, discipleship is about becoming more like Jesus. Christlike transformation is the goal, as we are “to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29, HCSB). The point isn’t information but Christlike transformation. And that means it isn’t about knowledge in general but about knowing Jesus better. Trying to be like Jesus without the power of Jesus dishonors Jesus.

2. We try to program discipleship. Discipleship is not a six-week course. It requires both the pursuit of knowledge and intentional action. Too many offer a book or a class when what is needed is a life. Instead, when Jesus made disciples, He brought them along as He ministered to people. I’m currently discipling a new believer, and we’re actually doing ministry together— instead of me just telling him about it. The good news is that the research tells us people want this. A recent LifeWay Research study found that a large majority of those who have previously attended a small group of some kind but who aren’t attending now would consider attending a new group, but they want to meet with their group more often than just once a week for Bible study. People are looking for meaningful, shared-life relationships, not just a discipleship class.


3. We equate discipleship with our preaching. Pastors, stop thinking your preaching is enough to be the church’s discipleship strategy. A recent LifeWay Research study indicates that 56 percent of pastors surveyed believe their weekly sermon or another one of their teaching times was the most important 66 MinistryToday January // February 2014

discipling ministry in the church. While it’s great to see the recent renaissance of Bible-based preaching, along with it we have to jettison the idea that “If people just listen to my sermons, they will grow spiritually.” Instead, discipleship is a daily process. Pastors, we have to develop more robust discipleship plans than just our weekly messages. Discipleship is not a Sunday event; it is a daily commitment.

4. We think that we will grow without effort. Many believers think that God saved them and now they should just go to church and maybe stay away from the really big sins. They’re unintentional in tending to their spiritual growth. Sadly, we haven’t done much to change this. Instead, we need to understand that Scripture teaches that each person is to not be a passive spectator, but rather to “work out your own salvation” (Phil. 2:12). Discipleship takes every believer’s intentional effort. Believers must take steps to grow.

5. We don’t offer practical steps. Changing a church’s consumer culture requires an intentional discipleship plan and strategy. We are often intentional about our preaching schedule; why, then, are we not intentional about a discipleship strategy? Instead, be unapologetic that you want to encourage people to get 1) grounded in their faith, 2) consistent in the Word and 3) in a small group with others, whether that looks like a weekly Bible study group, a missional community, a Sunday school class or something else altogether. Give people steps and people with whom they can take those steps. Assuming your discipleship plan is biblically grounded, the specifics of your plan aren’t nearly as important as implementing one and communicating it well. Heralding a strategy as the way to become a disciple would be arrogant, but each church should explain its discipleship strategy as “our church’s way of discipleship.” Identifying the challenges of genuine discipleship and committing to a process that works through them are the first and necessary steps to cultivating a church filled with on-mission disciples.  E d S t e t z e r is the president of LifeWay Research, an author, speaker, pastor, church planter and Christian missiologist. For more information, visit



How to Share the Gospel With An Atheist

Talking about Jesus with an atheist shouldn’t be an intimidating experience

1. Don’t be shocked, and do ask tons of questions. Some atheists like to shock Christians with the fact that they don’t believe in God. This brand of atheist pulls the pin on the “There is no God” grenade and drops it in the middle of the conversation, expecting Christians to run for cover. Don’t be phased. As a matter of fact, start asking questions. Find out what they mean by atheism (some are agnostics but call themselves atheists). Ask questions about their background. Were they raised in church? Do they have any Christian friends? Where were they educated about atheism? As you ask questions, your goal is not to trap them but to understand them. Find common ground, like Paul did with the Athenians when he discovered an altar to the “unknown god.” You can agree about a mutual rejection of legalistic religion, a passion for science and reason and, usually, an overall positive view of the historic Jesus. 2. Listen deeply for the real “why.” Often atheists have a reason (other than “reason”) for becoming atheists. Listen for it. Sometimes it’s anger over losing a loved one. Other times it’s that 68 MinistryToday January // February 2014

they were hurt by the church in some way. But often there’s a “why” behind the lie they are embracing. In John 4, Jesus masterfully attacked the why behind the lie embraced by the woman at the well was embracing. She was not an atheist but a hedonist who thought that satisfaction could be found if she finally found the right guy. But Jesus offered her living water to satisfy her deepest needs. James shared with me about his upbringing in England and his regular attendance at the Church of England. He told me about how his wife had left him and how he could only see his kids every other weekend. James shared how he reads at least a book a week and how he loses himself in novels. As he shared, I couldn’t quite nail down why he was an atheist, but I could sense that he was a lonely man. My heart went out to him, and I think he could sense my sympathy. 3. Connect relationally. Atheists are real people with real feelings. They laugh, cry, talk and connect like anyone else. Too many times, Christians treat atheists as objects. James and I joked together as we sparred each other. I listened to him, and he listened to me. Bottom line is that I like James. He is an interesting guy with an interesting story. 4. Assume that, down deep inside, they do believe in God. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who genuinely rejects the existence of God. I’ve met many who have claimed rejected God’s existence, but I’m convinced that deep down they really do believe there’s a God. They may try to suppress their belief, but sooner or later, atheists say something like, “Well, if God is so good, then why does He allow ... ?” This is the point in the conversation where they have “forgotten” their atheism and revealed some of their challenges with not the reality of God but the nature of God. 5. Frame the gospel as a love story (that just happens to be true). When I shared the gospel with James, I wasn’t trying to prove God’s existence. I was simply sharing God’s love. I said something like, “James, at the core of Christianity is a love story.” I could tell James was intrigued. He listened respectfully and asked thoughtful questions. James and I had a respectful conversation where I heard him and he heard the Good News of Jesus. My job is not to lead him to Jesus but to “set forth the truth plainly” and let the Spirit of God handle it (2 Cor. 4:2). James didn’t say the sinner’s prayer when the plane pulled up to the gate. But I believe that somewhere between Denver and St. Louis, the Spirit of God nudged him closer to Jesus.  G r e g S t i e r is the president of Dare 2 Share Ministries, which has led thousands of students to Jesus and equipped thousands more to reach their world with the gospel.



recently sat next to James on a flight from St. Louis to Denver. As we talked, the subject turned to spirituality and religion. I confessed that I was a preacher, and he confessed he was an atheist. What unfolded on the rest of the flight was a deep, thought-provocative, laughter-laced gospel conversation. I’ve had the privilege of engaging many atheists like James in various settings. I’ve discovered five helpful tips when sharing the gospel with someone who claims to not believe in God.

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Take the Way of Escape

Avoid being the next casualty of moral failures among leaders


esus often suffers more from His friends than from His enemies. In John Bunyan’s epic The Pilgrim’s Progress, one of Christian’s guides to the celestial city offers this wise counsel: “There are two things that they have need to possess who go on pilgrimage—courage and an unspotted life. If they have not courage, they can never hold on their way; and if their lives be loose, they will make the very name of the pilgrim stink.” The pandemic of spiritual leaders who have fallen morally in the last several years has weakened our collective influence. Even worse, it has left an undeniable stench in the nostrils of multitudes toward anything Christian. Why do unbelievers care whether we live up to our profession? The answer is tucked away in the story of Jonah’s flight from his calling. As God judged the prophet’s disobedience with a violent storm, the sailors cried out to their false gods to save them but to no avail. Finally Jonah confessed, “I know that this great tempest is because of me” (Jon. 1:12). Suddenly, a group of cursing, idolatrous mariners became holiness preachers—preaching to the backslidden prophet! “ ‘ Why have you done this?’ they confronted Jonah. For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord” (v. 10). Could it be that a pagan world somehow perceives that our sins are imperiling them? When I entered ministry in the mid-1960s, it was assumed that you could trust preachers. Today, the opposite is assumed. Into the foreseeable future, trust will be harder to gain, Believe me, I know all too well the darkness my own heart and mind are capable of if I step outside Christ’s lordship. We all feel the reverberations when a spiritual leader falls. Each new scandal should prompt us to mourn, humble ourselves, pray, search our own hearts, reflect and recognize our profound, constant need for the grace of God.

First, keep short accounts with God. Repent immediately of all known sin. Don’t harbor any unconfessed sin, and don’t try to excuse it. Second, establish real accountability. For 19 years, I’ve been in a serious accountability relationship with a trusted peer in ministry. We frequently meet and hold each other’s feet to the fire with penetrating questions. Third, humble yourself before the Lord. Andrew Murray wrote, “Reckon humility to be indeed the mother-virtue, your very first duty before God, the one perpetual safeguard of the soul.” Fourth, take the escape hatch! “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). God has provided an escape—but for every second we flirt with temptation, the exit sign grows dimmer. Here are other important firewalls: hh Bracket your day with time in God’s presence hh Be filled with the Spirit and walk in the Spirit hh Develop a personal prayer team hh Restore fallen brothers and sisters hh Stay focused on your mission hh Don’t give anger a foothold hh Put on the whole armor of God hh Abide in the vine (Jesus) hh Pray for grace to wear favor well hh Hate sin and acknowledge sin hh Be sure your spouse knows where you are when you have “free time” hh Know who you are in Christ hh Know who you are (what the “natural man” is capable of) outside Christ


D a v i d S h i b l e y founded Global Advance in 1990 and has equipped church leaders in 62 nations. Now serving as Global Advance’s international representative, he mentors young people called to Christian ministry through his Days With David encounters.

“We all feel the reverberations when a spiritual leader falls.”

We can also build firewalls to help protect us against the barrages of the enemy. These firewalls will help us “walk worthy of the calling with which [we] are called” (Eph. 4:1). Here are some important ones: 70 MinistryToday January // February 2014

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Ministry Today January/February 2014  

Serving rising leaders within the church by empowering them with effective tools for Spirit-led ministry.