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100-Year Warning

a Prophetic Vision From America’s Past

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The Most Effective Evangelism Method

Enough is Enough

How to Challenge church Consumerism March // April 2013

Equipping Christian Leaders to Grow

Michael Brown:

Praying for the Peace of Jerusalem: A Primer

Are you preaching a compromised gospel?

Mark Rutland:

Why your church doesn’t define you

Jonathan Cahn

The author of The Harbinger and Messianic rabbi reveals the keys to ministry in the last days


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“Anna� is a husband-and-wife team. After graduation from seminary at Yale University, Albert Rountree spend most of his adult life in the pastoral ministry with his wife, Ann. Following their retirement, they moved to a large metropolitan area to help bring pastors from many denominations and diverse ethnic backgrounds together for monthly prayer and daily gatherings. They now live a quiet life apart with the Lord in a mountain cabin.


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c o n t e n t s V o l . 3 1 // N o . 2

Ministry in the Last Days

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Jonathan Cahn knows all about standing as a bridge between two extremes. Not only is the Messianic rabbi’s congregation a blend of Jews and Gentiles, his book The Harbinger offers a prophetic warning to America of God’s judgment—while remaining on several best-seller lists. As guest editor for this issue, Jonathan offers deeper insight into the keys to ministering in these last days.

50 DEPARTMENTS

The supernatural, behind-the-scenes story of how The Harbinger found its way to the nation By Steve Strang

10 | M  INISTRY OUTSIDE THE BOX Church growth lessons from a giant | Implementing change in small churches | Suffering from brand overload?

FEATURES

MinistryLife

14 | Bearing the Good Word for America

16 | A National Wake-Up Call

What could an ancient mystery more than 2,500 years old mean to the future of your ministry? By Jonathan Cahn plus: A Q&A with Jonathan Cahn on the church’s response to The Harbinger—and what’s next for fans

24 | The Fruit of a Compromised Gospel

In today’s hyper-grace culture, will we preach a cross that saves or empowers the sinner? By Dr. Michael Brown

28 | A Sobering Warning to the Church

How a 100-year-old vision from God can help us prepare for the return of Christ By Dr. Joe VanKoevering

34 | Praying for the Peace of jerusalem: A Primer A guide to better understand our vital reponse to Israel in the last days By Charles Gordon

40 | Is Your Church Prepared for Coming Storms? Being a physical and spiritual refuge in the last days can show Jesus to hurting people who need Him By Dr. Paul Williams 6

MinistryToday March // April 2013

M a r c h // A p r i l 2 0 1 3

48 | Children’s Ministry Five simply ways to make your children’s ministry safer 50 | Family Who’s discipling your family: you or your church? 52 | Stewardship How to challenge consumerism and motivate generosity in your church

MinistryLeadership

54 | Culture Are you an empowered or empowering leader? 56 | Discipleship Francis Chan poses questions every leader should ask in preparation for ministry

MinistryOutreach

58 | Evangelism Are we looking for the harvest without commitment to farm the soil? 60 | Missions Rich Stearns offers a fivepoint checkup to prevent you from mission-derailing traps

COLUMNS

12 | Kingdom Culture What I learned from the Super Bowl about engaging the culture By Jim Daly 66 | Pastor’s Heart Cultivating a rich inner life is a non-negotiable for all leaders By Dr. Mark Rutland

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: Sean Roberts | TOC: © Istockphoto/comptine


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Ministry Outside the Box

ideas, insights & inspiration beyond the norm

Church Growth Lessons From

© Istockphoto/mattjeacock

André the Giant Why numbers don’t measure your church’s health By Justin Wise I never thought I’d look to André the Giant for life lessons. Turns out I’m wrong. It seems the late 7-foot-4-inch, French ex-professional wrestler has wisdom to share for all. I was fortunate enough to join 12 other church communication professionals in Chicago recently. One of the insights from that meeting still rumbling around in my brain focused on church growth. One of the leaders said, “Healthy things grow.” She was quick to follow up with the reminder: “But growth doesn’t always mean numbers.” I appreciated that. In our megachurch world, sometimes the reality of what it means to be a healthy, growing church gets skewed by numbers. Do healthy churches grow? Yes. Does that always mean they grow numerically? Not necessarily. Here’s where André is helpful. André René Roussimoff, a.k.a. André the Giant, suffered from acromegaly, a disease that causes the body to produce too much growth hormone. Acromegaly zaps the body’s ability to say, “Stop growing!” If left untreated, it can result in severe disfigurement, serious complicating conditions and premature death. It is believed that acromegaly contributed to the congestive heart failure that caused Andre’s death in 1993.

What’s André Got to Do With It?

© Istockphoto/bowie15

When I think of church growth through the lens of André the Giant, I’m reminded that numeric growth isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes a major function of the body gets “hijacked” and produces too much of a good thing. In Andre’s case, it was growth hormone. In our local churches, it’s numbers. André’s skeletal and muscular infrastructure wasn’t able to accommodate the massive amount of growth his body was producing. It led to disfigurement, pain and ultimately, his death. He was taking medication that literally told his body, “Stop growing now!” Similarly, our local churches can experience growth they are ill-prepared to accommodate. The “infrastructure” can’t sustain the growth the body is experiencing. As a result, all sorts of dysfunctions begin to show up—everything from staff back-biting to cowardly leadership decisions to fights in the church parking lot after service. Does that mean all large churches are somehow sick or diseased? Absolutely not! growth continued on page 10

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MinistryToday March // April 2013

Tips for Implementing Change in Small Churches By Jennifer Armitage How do you pitch change to an unwilling pastor or church leadership? This venture can be especially difficult in a smaller church. Most smaller churches don’t take on new changes for a variety of reasons: lack of money, limited volunteers and staff, and sometimes a lack of understanding of the potential benefits of change. Here are a few tips for successfully implementing change in a small church: Write out a pitch. This way, the leadership can take their time to consider it. Writing it out also does two things: 1) It shows you are serious about your proposal. Show them that you’re actually invested. 2) It allows you to elaborate on why the changes you want to see should happen, and then to offer examples. Don’t show expensive examples. Small churches have little to no budget. Showing leaders something they can never afford is discouraging. They won’t see the “what if”; they’ll see “what we can never do.” Start small. Instead of trying to transform a black-andwhite bulletin into a colorful glossy booklet, start small. Begin by redoing the bulletin but keeping it in black and white. As reluctant leaders watch how positively people react to it, they will begin to see the big picture. Remember, it’s personal. Convincing people that a change is needed can be frustrating. In established small churches, the leadership may be the ones who came up with the current logo or brand 25 years ago. Acting like it’s bad or isn’t good enough can lead to hurt feelings. Instead of talking about what the old way didn’t do, try to keep the focus on what the new changes will do.  

J e n n i f e r A r m i t a g e is a mom, pastor’s wife, blogger, and director of communications and community outreach for Crossroads Christian Fellowship. Adapted with permission from ChurchMarketingSucks.com.


Ministry Outside the Box ideas, insights & inspiration beyond the norm

Are You Suffering from Brand Overload? By Jonathan Malm

© Istockphoto/AnaBGD

Remember that trick you used to play on your friends: “Want to play 52-card pickup?” Then you’d throw a deck of cards in the air.

I feel like my church does this each week with their bulletin. An usher hands me that beautiful piece of literature. Then my next five minutes are spent picking up the pieces that have spilled out. Each piece of paper advertises some church ministry:

» growth continued from page 8 Is Our DNA Healthy? If the local church is truly the body of Christ, then we have to believe that overgrowth is just as problematic as anemia. We have to peel back the growth question a few layers and ask some new ones: Is our body growing in a healthy way? Are the building blocks of our organization solid or weak? Is our DNA healthy? Or are there overriding dysfunctions that will take a good thing (i.e., growth) and pervert it into a bad thing? Growth is a two-way street. The Holy Spirit causes growth, but we have a responsibility to prepare for and cultivate that growth once it happens. This is biblical (see 1 Cor. 3:5-9; Matt. 13:1-23). We can’t control growth any more than André had the 10 MinistryToday March // April 2013

  Fire Explosion Ignite Youth Ministry   Proverbs 31 Zoe Grace Women’s Group   Passion Eagle Holy Spirit Worship Arts Our church has jumped on the branding bandwagon with extra gusto. Every ministry gets special marketing attention from its leader. The youth pastor is branding his youth group, the children’s pastor his ministry. Even the worship pastor gets in on the action by branding his band or department. But with everyone branding their own ministry, who worries about the church’s brand? Very few churches can afford a branding manager for their church. And pastors are often focused on branding their messages. So the church’s brand is pushed aside while everyone’s ministries fight for attention. Does your church struggle with brand overload with no one keeping them all in check? Let me suggest you scale back on some of the ministry branding and focus on a strong church brand. Ask every key member to focus their efforts on the church as a whole. Your church brand will grow stronger. You’ll even find that those over-branded ministries will reap the benefits of a strong church brand. Work on branding the church first. Make sure what people see reflects the church and makes them want to step through the doors. Then you can slowly add the other stuff. J o n a t h a n M a l m writes and speaks about the creative process—especially for churches. He writes about creativity at his blog JonathanMalm.com and the website ChurchStageDesignIdeas .com. Adapted with permission from ChurchMarketingSucks.com.

ability to control his body’s out-of-control thyroid. But we do have a responsibility to tend our flocks and know the state of our herds.

Don’t Look to Growth for a Health Assessment The bottom line is that some big churches aren’t as healthy as they believe themselves to be. Some of these churches have neglected the hard work of inspecting their DNA and asking, “Holy Spirit, are we ready for what You have to give us?” Similarly, smaller congregations of 20, 30, 40 people aren’t as unhealthy as they’ve been led to believe. The challenge is figuring out where you are and what to do about it if you don’t like what you see. Adapted with permission from ChurchMarketingSucks.com.


In The Harbinger Jonathan Cahn sounded the alarm with a prophetic wake-up call for America, the world, and the future. Now The Harbinger Companion With Study Guide brings you insight and understanding into the events and prophetic truth that inspired it.

€ The correlation between ancient Israel and modern-day America € A behind-the-scenes look at the “story behind the story” € A guided walking tour of the harbingers with photos and maps! € Answers to your questions about The Harbinger and Jonathan Cahn, and more!

Also available... The Harbinger Companion and Study Guide E-Book 978-1-62136-246-3 / US $14.99 The Harbinger E-Book 978-1-61638-611-5 US $16.99 The Harbinger 978-1-61638-610-8 US $16.99

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A Lesson in Culture Engagement

Silence can be a powerful tool for communicating a message of truth

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atching the recent Super Bowl game reminded me of a powerful kingdom lesson we learned a few years ago. It was October 2009, and I was sitting in a recording studio at Focus on the Family. A colleague had suggested a wild idea for Focus to film a pro-life TV commercial with Pam and Tim Tebow. At the time, Tim was the University of Florida’s star quarterback and his mother, Pam, had publicly shared her decision to refuse a doctor’s suggestion to abort baby Tim years earlier. I loved it. “That should be a Super Bowl ad,” I said. But the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad was steep. As much as I wanted to do it, I wasn’t sure we could pull it off. A remarkable series of events began to unfold. Several generous friends of Focus stepped forward and pledged to cover the cost. We were introduced to Bob (Tim’s father) and Pam Tebow, and they agreed to work with us. Under a veil of secrecy, a single day of filming was scheduled for early January. On Christmas Eve, a newspaper columnist broke our story. His report missed several key details, but we declined comment. The writer speculated the advertisement would be an anti-abortion spot and then proceeded to lampoon us. Within days, several abortion rights groups around the country objected to news of the rumored advertisement. Throughout January reporters called for details, wanting to know who would be in the ad, what they would say, etc. We accepted invitations to talk about it, but declined to offer any specifics—only confirming the ad would celebrate the beauty of family and the wonder of life. It quickly became one of the most talked about commercials in Super Bowl history, garnering us an estimated

$45 million in earned media coverage. Ironically, the attention happened as a result of us choosing not to argue with our critics or challenge faulty assertions or insinuations—namely that we were bigoted, intolerant and determined to foist our opinions on others. I’d like to claim credit for such genius. Our silence was intentional, but we didn’t do it because we thought it would make for good press—rather because I don’t think retaliating or picking a fight is the right approach. So instead of fighting back, we trusted that the Lord had His hand on the project. Even as the pressure mounted on CBS to cancel our ad contract, we stood our ground and didn’t publicly defend ourselves or even our right to free speech. For one of my favorite commercialrelated interviews, I was invited to debate Jehmu Green, at the time the president of the Women’s Media Center, who was brought on to represent those who disagreed with CBS allowing our spot to run. The conversation eventually turned to Pam Tebow’s courage not to abort Tim. She and I agreed that Mrs. Tebow was a remarkable woman. At that point, I had an opportunity to foreshadow the coming ad, saying, “Jehmu, I’m glad your mother chose life for you.” She smiled at that comment. Shortly after the game, we received a note from a woman named “Susan.” She had seen the ad, was pregnant and considering an abortion. The ad had changed her mind. Almost a year after her daughter, Avita, was born, I had the privilege of hosting them in my office. Had we chosen to argue with our critics before the big game, just to make a point or show our strength, I believe the CBS censors would have bounced us from the lineup. When it comes to engaging the culture, it’s never the right time to pick a fight. Instead, pick the right time to share the right word.

MinistryResource In ReFocus, Jim Daly makes it clear that following Jesus Christ should motivate Christians to transcend political agendas and partisan battles and instead consistently reveal the heart of God to a desperately lost and hurting world. 12 MinistryToday March // April 2013

J i m D a l y is the president and host of Focus on the Family. His latest book, ReFOCUS: Living a Life That Reflects God’s Heart, released last fall. He and his wife have two boys.

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Bearing the Good The supernatural story of how The Harbinger found its way to the nation

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By S t e v e S t r a ng , p ubl isher a nd f ounder

a sed on you r reading t h is magazine, I assume you’re the type of leader who wants your life—and ministry—to make a difference. Yet if you’re like me, you know that something serious is happening in America today. Rabbi, pastor and bestselling author Jonathan Cahn understands both of these dynamics, which is why I asked him to serve as guest editor of this issue of Ministry Today on ministering in the last days. Rabbi Cahn’s bestselling book, The Harbinger, has served as a national wake-up call. Through its narrative, he connected the dots for us to see that God is warning America in the same ways He warned Israel in Isaiah’s day through prophecies and harbingers of things to come! I had the privilege to publish The Harbinger. Though having a best-seller like this has been a blessing to my company, I appreciate The Harbinger even more because I believe it’s the game-changer book I had asked God for and believed He would let me publish. The Harbinger came to me as a result of prophecy not once, but twice. Here’s what happened. In late 2010, I was seeking God for a book to put into perspective what was happening in the world, how God viewed these changes and what Christians should do. I knew a man who had what I thought was this message, and I recruited him to write a book like this. Looking back, my journal during that time is full of references to this book and my wondering if it would impact a nation. Sadly, for a variety of reasons, the book was never written. God had a better idea. Meanwhile Jonathan, while visiting

14 MinistryToday March // April 2013

Ground Zero in New York City, began to notice parallels to the warnings God gave Israel in Isaiah 9:10-11. One by one, he began to connect the dots to see how God was also warning America. Though he’d never written a book, he put those findings into a manuscript—first as a non-fiction “teaching” book. But after completing it, he felt he should rewrite it as a narrative story, using characters to unfold the mysteries and help readers understand what was happening. With a finished manuscript in hand, he began to pray about a publisher at the same time I was praying for a game-changing book. One day, while waiting at the airport for a connecting flight, Jonathan asked the Lord, “What should I do?” Sitting next to him at that moment was a friend of mine, Hubie Synn, a CPA from New Jersey, who was asking the Lord, “Is there anyone I should speak to about You?” Hubie sensed he should speak to the “very Jewish-looking man” (his words) seated nearby. After a brief argument with the Lord, he began the conversation by asking the stranger: “What’s the good word?” That opened a dialogue in which Hubie prophesied over Jonathan, telling him he had a book that would shake the nation, and that Jonathan was in the valley of decision about which direction to go, but that God would give him direction. Hubie’s words certainly got Jonathan’s attention! The two men talked on the flight for several hours, and before they landed Hubie asked if he could tell me about the book. Cahn agreed, and a couple of months later I got an email from Hubie about how he’d met a Jewish man in the airport who had a book that would shake the nation and asking if I was interested. But there’s a second prophecy that rounds out this story. While at dinner with friends one night, I asked one of them to call a prophetic friend of his for me because I couldn’t get through on the phone. My friend called to leave a voicemail, but instead the prophet picked up the phone. After a few minutes, my friend handed me the phone and said the man had a word for me. He referred to a couple of things I was dealing with that no one could have known and then said the next year would be one of “gain and influence.” The very next day Hubie’s email arrived. I never connected the two events until I went back to my journal and was reminded of the “word” I’d received. Why am I sharing it now? It’s more than just to illustrate that journaling can help us process the day-to-day events in our lives and remember significant milestones we don’t understand until later. No, I share this remarkable behind-the-scenes story because it reaffirms that The Harbinger is more than just a best-selling book (it recently surpassed 1 million copies sold). I believe it is a game-changer in and for America, and I did absolutely nothing to deserve being able to publish it. But it was an answer to prayer for me—and for Jonathan—that God Almighty spoke into our lives through a prophetic word that would ultimately stir the nation.


Word for America

Beyond the Messenger: Jonathan Cahn’s prophetic warning to America in The Harbinger continues to reawaken parts of the church. But is it too late to save our nation?


A

National

Wake-up What an ancient mystery means to America’s future—and your ministry By Jonathan Cahn

16 MinistryToday March // April 2013


MINISTRY IN THE LAST DAYS

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more than 2,500 years old mean to the future of your ministry? To understand its relevance for today, let me set the stage and go back to the last days of ancient Israel. hat could an ancient mystery

Before Israel’s destruction as a nation, nine harbingers appeared—nine warnings of destruction in a biblical template of national judgment. These same nine harbingers of judgment are now reappearing in modern America in specific detail. Some have appeared in New York City, some in Washington D.C., some have involved the highest leaders of the land, even the president of the United States. The manifestations of the harbingers involve such things as the Stone of Judgment, the Sign of the Sycamore, the Tower, the Utterance, the Prophecy and more. The pattern begins with a national wake-up call: The nation’s hedge of protection is breached in some way. Years before the judgment, an enemy is allowed to strike the land. In the case of ancient Israel, that assault took place in 732 B.C. with the Assyrian invasion. In America it happened on Sept. 11, 2001. After Assyria’s attack, Israel did not repent or turn back to the Lord. Neither has America. In fact, both nations descended deeper into apostasy. And in both cases the first strike led to further shakings. In America we saw the second strike as the U.S. economy collapsed. Behind this modern-day collapse

March // April 2013 MinistryToday   17


about our guest editor...

was a stream of ancient mysteries, some of which actually identified and ordained the very dates, days and hours of the greatest economic crashes in American history. A Nation at War

Jonathan Cahn was in the seventh grade when a friend spoke to him about Jesus, beginning a journey of fruitful searching for answers to his many questions about life and God. At age 20, after two near-death car accidents, he drove to the top of a mountain, knelt down in prayer and dedicated his life to the Lord. Not long after, Cahn responded to a request to teach a Bible study, which led to his first ministry mainly focused on the meeting the needs of the homeless and disabled. In 1988, he was asked to lead the Jerusalem Center/Beth Israel, in Wayne, N.J., a worship center that has grown to be one of the America’s largest Messianic congregations, drawing both Jews and Gentiles. There, he serves as pastor and rabbi. He also leads Hope of the World, an end-time ministry committed to fulfilling the Great Commission to the Jew, the Gentile and all the unreached nations and people of the earth. Last year, Cahn released the game-changing book The Harbinger, which immediately placed on several best-seller charts, including The New York Times’. A fictional narrative, The Harbinger sounds a national wake-up call to America, reflecting Cahn’s teachings that reveal the deep truths and mysteries of God’s Word. In January, he released the in-depth follow-up, The Harbinger Companion With Study Guide. To learn more about our guest editor, go to HopeOfTheWorld .org. To get the full teachings behind The Harbinger, go to TheHarbingerWebsite.com. 18 MinistryToday March // April 2013

To understand what these harbingers mean for your ministry, we have to understand the biblical context. The backdrop is that of an ancient nation, founded on the Word of God and dedicated to His purposes. Yet over time Israel begins to drift away, departing from His ways more and more rapidly. It becomes a civilization at war against its own foundations, a culture turned in against itself, a nation in spiritual schizophrenia. Even in the wake of God’s warnings and shakings, Israel hardens itself against Him, a defiance that ultimately leads to its destruction. We’re witnessing the same scenario happening to America. This nation, too, was founded upon and dedicated for God’s purposes. But like Israel, America has departed and is departing from God and His ways. It has become a nation at war against its own foundations, a culture turned in against itself, a civilization in spiritual schizophrenia. What this means is that as God’s ministers, we now find ourselves in the same position as the righteous who lived in the days of Israel’s apostasy. We are living and ministering in a culture increasingly set against our witness and ministry. As I write this article, America’s departure from God and His Word continues unabated and ever more rapidly. When I began to write The Harbinger, the words flowed out like a stream, as if the book had already been written before I wrote it. The book released in the very first days of 2012. I believe there was a reason for that. In The Harbinger I wanted to voice a prophetic warning, sound an alarm, offer a wake-up call. National Tipping Points

Last year (2012) was critical in America’s trajectory away from God. He warns before judgment. The year marked the first time in U.S. history when a sitting president publicly spoke against the biblical definition of marriage. It was the year that America re-elected the first president to take such a stand, not to mention a radically activist stand on abortion. Many believers sensed that these political moves represented a tipping point. They did. The year wasn’t just about the presidency, as 2012 marked the first time that three states voted to end the biblical definition of marriage by popular vote. In each of these elections, the number of people seeking to protect the biblical definition of marriage was just under 50 percent, while the number seeking to end it was just over 50 percent—a tipping point. Among those voters aged 18 to 35, the percentage opposed to the biblical definition of marriage is now a stunning 70 percent. By the next presidential election, these statistics will represent virtually everyone up to 40 years old. Moreover, these statistics parallel another sobering finding: Of those Americans under age 30, one-third of them do not consider themselves Christians—not even nominal ones. Other polls have revealed this to be more like 40 percent. Last year America witnessed an event that shocked many who witnessed it: At the 2012 Democratic Convention, a good half of the delegates vehemently booed when God and Jerusalem were mentioned. And this was the convention that won the presidential election. Tipping points are, by nature, critical. Whether they happen in the physical or spiritual realm, a tipping point represents the moment of critical mass—when momentum dramatically increases and motion dramatically accelerates. It also represents the moment when movement and direction become dramatically clear and manifest. So it was that shortly


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A Q&A with Jonathan Cahn In January 2012, Jonathan Cahn’s New York Times best-seller, The Harbinger, released to the public and quickly garnered widespread media at tention and popular appeal. The book, a narrative revealing 2,500-year-old mysteries pointing to 21stcentury America’s future, sounded a wakeup call and triggered a gamut of questions from readers who realized the spiritual significance of the story. Now, a year later, Cahn has released The Harbinger Companion With Study Guide, a non-fiction follow-up filled with photographs, drawings, charts and a section answering the most frequently asked questions surrounding The Harbinger. Cahn explores each mystery revealed in The Harbinger, piece by piece, with background information. The Companion also features a 13-week study guide that individuals, small groups and churches can use to go deeper into this revelation. In this interview, Cahn talks about the nation’s response to his 2012 book, this new work, how readers can use it for in-depth study and why it’s absolutely vital that church leaders preach prophetically on the end times.

Ministry Today: Jonathan, did the overwhelming response to The Harbinger surprise you at all? Why do you think it caused such a stir throughout the nation? Jonathan Cahn: From how The Harbinger came to me and how it

became a book, I had no doubt it was from the Lord. So I had an assurance as I was writing it and as we were preparing to release it that it would go forth to the nation. What surprised me was how fast it all happened. The week of its release it became the No. 1 new book on Amazon and made The New York Times best-sellers list. That definitely surprised me. I still don’t understand the dynamics of how it happened. I believe The Harbinger is causing a stir throughout America for the same reason. It’s a prophetic word, an alarm, a wake-up call. So by its very nature, if it is to make a difference, it must be different. A wake-up call or an alarm has to cause a stir. There has to be some controversy or it’s not doing its job. In fact, if you look at the end of the book, you’ll see it’s foretold that it would have to be that way.

Ministry Today: What does that response tell church leaders about where people are today—what they’re thinking, what they’re wrestling with, etc.? Cahn: It tells us there’s a deep sense among believers—and not just believ-

ers—that America is in trouble, heading down the wrong path. I believe that most believers have that sense and a sense of danger concerning judgment. What The Harbinger did was reveal that it’s not just a sense. It’s real, it’s happening. America is following a precise and exact progression of biblical judgment with exact and precise signs and manifestations (harbingers) appearing in the land.

Ministry Today: What compelled or inspired you to follow up The Harbinger with The Harbinger Companion? Was it in the back of your mind as you wrote The Harbinger?

» continued on page 22 20 MinistryToday March // April 2013

after the election, the issue of redefining marriage reached the Supreme Court. This past year was also a milestone of a different kind. Though the media strangely avoided the story altogether, 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the year that America made a critical decision, its first dramatic step in removing God from its national life—the removal of prayer and then of the Bible from schools. That, too, was a landmark. It resulted in the transformation of American civilization. This transformation has been so radical and complete that the America where virtually every major TV/radio station once closed its broadcasting day with Bible-based sermons now seems light years away. Can you imagine if someone from 1962—expecting to find TV shows such as Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best—turned on the television in 2013? How would today’s popular culture strike him? As nothing short of apocalyptic—much the same as the apostasy of ancient Israel would have struck the righteous of that day. This is exactly what has happened. And if we are not as shocked as a viewer from 1962, it is only because we have become desensitized, step by step, by a civilization’s moral decay. Yet all these things, as critical as they are, are merely symptoms, consequences of a larger phenomenon. It was the same in ancient times. Israel had also removed God from its public life, redefined morality and killed its own children. These were all visible symptoms of an ancient nation descending away from God and His truth, and rejecting the faith of its foundation. The Nation You Once Knew

Imagine you were living in ancient Israel in the time of apostasy, harbingers and judgment, and had a ministry there. What would you do? The first thing you’d have to do is face the truth that the Israel you once knew—the Israel that once knew God—no longer existed. You are now living in a post-biblical nation in opposition to God and His ways. In the same way, we must now realize what we are facing. The America we once knew is gone. Our ministries now exist in the context of a nation in deep apostasy and a mainstream culture increasingly and ever more brazenly at war with the ways of God. Imagine that as you sought to minister in ancient Israel you were told that if you wanted to reach youth, you needed to tone down your preaching of the Word of God, avoid the hard passages, be more culturally friendly, lighten it up, just encourage your hearers, and tell your country how to succeed and how to unleash the divine champion that resides within all of them. And Sean Roberts


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» continued from page 20 Cahn: Ever since The Harbinger released, people have wanted to know more, to go deeper into the mysteries. I was also deluged with people asking me about the story behind the story: Who was the prophet? Was I Nouriel? How did the revelations come? Beyond that, people were coming from all over the country to the Jerusalem Center/Beth Israel, the congregation I lead, and then going to New York City to search for the actual harbingers and the places in the book. So there was a very intense demand for more. The Harbinger Companion answers all of those questions and provides a study guide for individual readers, group Bible studies and churches to go deeper into the mysteries. Ministry Today: What are some of the features in the Companion that you knew had to be included when you started on this project? What are some of the “surprises” that you didn’t set out to include but that made their way into the pages? Cahn: I believed that that the Compan-

ion should be filled with images. For the first time, many readers will see images of the nine harbingers and the mysteries I wrote about. For example, one of the photographs we included is one of the Nine Seals mentioned in the book. There’s a section on end-time prophecy detailing what has been fulfilled and what is yet to come. There’s a feature on where America does or doesn’t fit into the prophecies of the last days. There’s a chapter with the background of every major biblical character mentioned in the book, and one that outlines the prophecies of Messiah—and of course an important piece on salvation.

Ministry Today: Why did you want to include a guide? Any tips or ideas for how churches can use it? Cahn: The study guide lends itself especially to congregational use. It can

be done as an entire church series, with preaching from the pulpit on Sunday and exploration by congregants throughout the week. It can even be used evangelistically as The Harbinger is of interest to anyone who lives in America, believer or unbeliever. It can also be done as a series in classes and Bible studies. The questions could be used as key points in group discussion. In fact, the study guide has instructions for using it in any of these formats.

Ministry Today: Why is it vital that church leaders teach on the last days? Cahn: If one is living in the last days, it is vital to speak about it. If one is

living in a nation under judgment, then as God’s ministers we must alert those around us to that fact and do everything we can to warn them and to prepare our people. Beyond this, such messages lead to personal and congregational revival. It is a message to America, but it is also a message to the believer. Judgment begins with the house of God—and so does revival. One of the amazing things that’s happened since The Harbinger came out is that what’s in the book is coming true. The harbingers are continuing. The mysteries are continuing to manifest. The Harbinger Companion With Study Guide (for church classes and pastoral study) recently early this year. To get the full teachings behind The Harbinger, go to TheHarbingerWebsite.com for the DVD set The Harbinger: The Full Revelation. You can also read the full, uncut version of this interview with Jonathan Cahn at ministrytodaymag.com. 22 MinistryToday March // April 2013

while you were at it, since many of the youth were increasingly turning to the idol Baal, if you could just add some elements of Baal worship, you’d really win them over. What Would Your Answer Be?

Here’s the bottom line: You are a minister, and ministers must minister what is needed. The need of a nation in apostasy is to hear the truth and to hear it loud and clear. Woe to us if we should compromise or remain silent. Woe to us if we should put the success of our ministries ahead of God’s will. Woe to us if we should put self-interest or the acceptance of man over what is right. Woe to us if we should tone down or compromise our preaching and teaching of the Word because of the pressure of the current times. And woe to us if we should fail to stand strong and faithful in an hour that requires nothing less. Imagine you lived in such a time. The reality is that you don’t have to imagine it because you already do. In such a time, it is crucial that we not become weaker or softer in our witness, but bolder and stronger. We must now speak with a prophetic voice. We must take up the mantle of the watchman. And for the watchman to fulfill his charge, he must stay separate from the city. Thus, we must all the more be separate from the sins of our nation. We must all the more live all out and holy to fulfill God’s calling. Only those willing to be different can make a difference. The watchman must attend his post in his watchtower and dwell more deeply in the presence of God. Finally, we must lift up our trumpets, set them to our mouths and blow with all our might that the city might be saved. We are called to be the light of the world. Had we truly been that light, America could never have gotten as dark as it now is. We are called to be the salt of the earth. Had we truly been that salt, the culture surrounding us could never have decayed so much. If this is true for God’s people, it is all the more true of God’s ministers. We have been given a charge. And to whom much is given, much is required. Is There Hope?

I believe there is. These harbingers are warnings. If there were no hope, there would be no harbingers. I’m often asked what the future holds for America: judgment or revival? My answer is that there can be both. One of the key dynamics of the end times is polarization. As the dark gets darker, the light must get brighter. As the bad and corrupt gets worse, the good and the upright must become great. As the grays disappear from the

» continued on page 62


Fight Poverty in the Promised Land Dear Friends, An epidemic of poverty is sweeping over Israel and changing the very fabric of life in the Holy Land. According to a recently released LATET Poverty Report, Israel now has the unfortunate distinction of being ranked first among all “Western-style, developed nations” for poverty. This wave of poverty is hurting the promise of the Promised Land for many. Thirty percent of all Israelis reported that they are “very hungry” and are in danger of becoming homeless. More than a third of Israeli children live below the poverty line, and a staggering 7% reported regularly searching for food left on the street or in trash cans.

But we know that God has not left Israel to face these challenges alone. For eighteen years, Vision for Israel has been an extension of the hands and hearts of Christians all over the world. Vision for Israel has clothed needy Israelis throughout the country. Your gifts of food and home necessities have made all the difference for many of our neighbors in need. We have given 172,000 Israeli school children new backpacks filled with academic supplies. We have helped guide and comfort Ethiopian immigrants to Israel who find the transition a jarring culture shock. And we have been privileged to assist “Lone Soldiers,” those serving in the Israel Defense Forces without the support of family in the country. With your support, Vision for Israel has become an integral component of Israel’s emergency response capabilities, supplying emergency medical equipment to hospitals and Israel’s EMS personnel. But the new wave of poverty has left so many more in need. And the rising threat of a nuclear Iran and increased aggression from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza may be the first steps to a war in the Middle East that could potentially devastate Israel’s civilian population centers.

There is a long biblical history of believers among the nations rallying to Israel’s aid in times of crisis. “For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem” (Romans 15:26). Please pray for discernment – it may be that this is a similar period in history in which God is calling the nations to relieve the suffering of Israel’s poor. The Messiah Himself taught us, “… give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Luke 18:22). Visit www.visionforisrael.com today. Stand with us. Bless Israel and be blessed. Serving in Jerusalem, Vision for Israel P.O. Box 7743 Charlotte, NC 28241 Barry & Batya Segal info@visionforisrael.com Founders of Vision for Israel 1-866-351-0075


MINISTRY IN THE LAST DAYS

TheFruit of a

Compromised

Gospel

Will we preach By Dr. Michael L. Brown a cross “ he dawning of the 21st century finds the church of America in a moral and spiritual crisis. Decades of self-centered living and worldliness that saves or have taken their toll. Years of compromise and toothless gospel preaching have had their effect.” empowers Thirteen years ago in 2000, I wrote that admonition in my book The Jesus Manifesto. Ten years before that, in the sinner? 1990, I sounded a similar alarm in my book How Saved

T

Are We?: “For years, we have preached a cheap gospel and peddled a soft Savior. We have taught salvation without selfdenial and the crown without the cross. We have catered to the unsaved and compromised with the world. Now we are paying the price.” Tragically, what I and others warned about has now run its dangerous and deceptive course. You don’t have to look too far today to hear Christian leaders teaching that it’s wrong to expect born-again believers to change their conduct, calling those who do “religious” (as if that’s a bad word) or, worse still, “legalistic” if they preach repentance to the church and to the lost. Today, you can practice almost any sin, work in

24 MinistryToday March // April 2013


Warning Signs: Dr. Michael Brown sounded an alarm years ago, yet he now sees the American church succumbing to a cheap gospel Nancy G. Brown


almost any ungodly profession and still be accepted as a follower of Jesus Christ. How in the world did we depart so far from the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus? Consider these examples: ● A glamorous spokeswoman for conservative Christian values explains that, “I am a Christian, and I am a model. Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos.” ● A well-known rapper claims a conversion to Christianity and states, “I love God, Jesus Christ is my savior, and I’m still out here thuggin’.” He has been baptized, attends church regularly and says, “I still love the strip club, and I still

have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey.” In contrast, he noted with profound insight, “The new cross does not slay the sinner; it redirects him.” Today we could take his insights one step further and say that the new cross does not slay the sinner; it empowers him or her: Jesus came to make you into a bigger and better you. Jesus came to help you fulfill your dreams and your destiny. Put another way, the gospel is all about you—not Jesus. Scan the programming on Christian TV and listen to the latest “hit” sermons, and take note of how often you hear messages about all the wonderful things

“The more we water down the message, the fewer disciples we will produce and the less God will back us.” smoke and drink. I’m faithful to my family, so I wanted to make an album where you could love God and be of God, but still get it poppin’ in your life.” I am not making this up. And we don’t dare call out anyone on their sinful, public lifestyle lest we be guilty of what is now considered the worst sin of all—judging. Yes, these days it’s considered worse to judge someone for sinning than it is to commit the sin. With regard to the lingerie model and, even more so, the rapper, it would be one thing if we said that they were spiritually and morally confused, totally immature in their faith, in need of serious discipleship and a real encounter with the Lord. But so often that’s not what you hear. Instead, many believers in America today find nothing wrong with the idea of a “Christian” lingerie model or a “bornagain,” profanity-using, smoking, drinking rapper who frequents strip clubs. What kind of nonsense is this? The New Cross for Sinners

More than 50 years ago in his classic article, “The Old Cross and the New,” A.W. Tozer wrote, “The old cross would 26 MinistryToday March // April 2013

God can do for you—including prosper you financially. Contrast that with how seldom you hear messages about the wonderful things we’re called to do for the Lord. And see if you can count even five times in the last year that you heard a message challenging you to sacrifice and service for Jesus (and I’m not talking about making a financial sacrifice for the TV preacher). Yet Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24, NIV). When is the last time you were stirred to the core of your being with those words? Yet their message runs throughout the Gospels and forms a fundamental part of the message of the Lord. (See Matt. 10:37-39; 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 14:26-33; 17:32-32; John 12:24-25.) “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus,” Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Tim. 2:3), as opposed to, “Enjoy personal success with me as a good entrepreneur of Christ Jesus.” And

he exhorted Timothy to use the Word to “correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction,” warning him that, “the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (4:2-4). The Gospel of Hyper-Grace

We are living in such a time today, a time in which the gospel of personal success has been merged with the gospel of hyper-grace, thereby rendering the listener impervious to warning or correction or rebuke: “If it doesn’t make me feel better about myself, it’s not from God. If it draws attention to my sin, it’s not from God. If it challenges me in any way, it’s legalism, it’s bondage, it’s the law.” According to the latest version of the message of hyper-grace: ●  Nothing you do will negatively affect your relationship with God. ●  As a believer, you never need to confess your sins to God or repent of your sins. ●  God doesn’t see your sins; He always sees you as perfect through the blood of Jesus. ●  You can follow Jesus effortlessly. And still, there is more. We have become obsessed with the need to be “relevant,” trying to become like the world to win the world. We want lost, confused sinners to know we are just like them: “Is your life messed up? Our lives are messed up, too. You will feel completely at home in our church. And you will really be able to relate to our pastor. He’s up on the latest hit movies—even the raunchy ones—and sometimes he spices up his sermons with off-color language. We are not uptight religious people here.” Misleading Our Young People

Moreover, as young people leave our churches by the droves, we compromise our message even more. We fail to realize that young people are

» continued on page 64


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Prophetic Booth: Salvation Army founder General William Booth’s warnings for the 20th century have uncanny parallels to America today


MINISTRY IN THE LAST DAYS

A Sobering

Warning to the

Church

How a 100-year-old vision from God can help us prepare for the return of Christ

I

By Dr. Joe VanKoevering

try to stay focused on what’s happening in the world as it relates to Bible prophecy—part of my assignment from God. And what’s occurring in the world today all points to the soon return of Jesus Christ. However, another important part of my assignment is to deal with what God is saying as a warning to His church. Before we talk about a warning to the sinner or to America or to the nations of the world, I believe God wants us to deal with and respond to a sobering warning to the church. I and other prophetic preachers often run into people who scoff at us, calling us “doom and gloomers” and “negative preachers.” When I hear those accusations, my first question is always, “Since when is preaching the return of the Son of God somehow doom and gloom and bad news

to the people who are supposed to be looking for Him?” In 2 Timothy, Paul talks to believers and especially “last days” believers who turn away from the truth: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come [a direct reference to the final times] when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:1-4). Let’s look at a few specifics in this passage as we

March // April 2013 MinistryToday   29


consider what it means to us today. The itching ears phrase refers to people wanting those who preach and teach to speak only pleasantries: “Don’t give us any bad news … anything strong or harsh … anything negative.” The spirit of the last days will say, “Tickle our ears (that is what itching ears literally means: to scratch or to tickle). Don’t tell me what I really need to hear, but rather what I want to hear.” Many in the church have this desire for their ears to be tickled. Consequently, those in the church will start to move away from the truth. They will be filled with a lie because they do not love the truth (see 2 Thess. 2:10-11). They will have ears only to hear something pleasing and believe fables. In this passage, the Greek word for fables is mythos—the root word for mythology, meaning “something concocted with falsehoods.” A Godly Man’s Vision

I came across a warning from a man who lived more than 100 years ago. You’ve probably heard of him: General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. Before it was known as the Salvation Army, his organization was originally named Christian Revival Society. This unique preacher had a burning passion to see true revival come to his generation. God gave General Booth a prophetic dream that would become a clear and sobering warning. His vision included six parts still relevant to us today—maybe even more so than when he preached them. His revelations have proven to be extremely accurate. As the 20th century began, Booth was asked by someone what he saw as the greatest dangers for the next hundred years. Below are what he identified as the chief dangers which would confront the coming century. 1) Politics Without God

General Booth saw that there would be a day when civil government in the Western world would no longer have the fear of God. I thank God for the founding of this nation. We do still have “In God We Trust” on our currency. But the question for us now is: What god do we really trust in anymore? Is 30 MinistryToday March // April 2013

it the one, true God? Is it the Creator of heaven and earth? Or is it one of the many false gods worshipped in America? Which god are we really trusting in? If they had their way, some people right now would remove “In God We Trust” from our currency. They are already starting to do it. When will God judge America? Perhaps He already is. Perhaps it has already begun yet we are too blind to see it. Where is the real power of the Word of God in America today? The true power is lacking.

“We have countless preachers who go out of their way not to even mention hell.” 2) Heaven Without Hell

I challenge anyone to name a preacher today, at least in the media world, who will still preach a message on hell. It’s difficult to come up with one. In fact, we have countless preachers who go out of their way not to even mention hell. Consider these Scriptures and what God says about those who deceive others:   “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18).   “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6). We desperately need men of the cross and men of the Word who still call themselves “preachers of the gospel” and will be bold enough to say there is still a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. 3) Salvation Without Repentance

If you were to ask Christians today to repent, many would wonder, “Repent? What does that mean?”

For g ivenes s f rom si n w it hout repentance from sin is the popular message of the day. John the Baptist said it this way in Matthew 3:7-8: “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (NASB). The spirit of John the Baptist and the spirit of Elijah are coming again, which must precede the return of Jesus Christ. The message of these two prophets and the message today will still be to repent and flee the wrath to come. What we hear today from a totally self-absorbed, consumer church is “fix my problems” and “it’s not my fault.” We want forgiveness, but we don’t want to repent. Booth was right. Repentance is a forgotten, lost word in the church today. 4) Salvation Without Regeneration

General Booth predicted that we would see increasing numbers of people claiming to have salvation yet not having truly become new creatures in Christ. The preaching of “You must be born again” must be discovered in our gospel message. Clarity on these points is even more crucial today because we live in an hour when a counterfeit “New Age gospel” is preached on every corner. We’re told we can be “saved” without getting bogged down in boring, old-fashioned, stuffy doctrine. And the idea of being “saved” without going overboard with a lot of Bible language, doctrine and ultimately truth tickles the ears of many. Most preachers today couldn’t even biblically define regeneration, much less actually preach it boldly in their pulpits on Sunday mornings! In my very own city, one of the largest churches here decided not long ago that they shouldn’t even “bother” wasting their precious service time (which is only 59 minutes long— with a guarantee) to partake of Holy Communion anymore. The church has stopped receiving communion entirely in Sunday services in this large church. We have sa lvation without rea l regeneration. 5) Religion Without the Holy Spirit

Few have understood as well as General Booth that religious conformity is


quite different from genuine conversion brought by the Holy Spirit. Second Timothy 3:5 says that in the last days we will face an epidemic of those, “Having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Jude sounded a similar warning: In the last days, there will be an increase of those who are “devoid of the spirit” (Jude 18-19, NASB). Years ago a great man of God said,

“If the Holy Spirit left the planet tonight at midnight, tomorrow morning 99 percent of church activity, church programs and Christian ministry would go on untouched.” A sad commentary. Yet, I agree with him. Too often we “do” church out of soulcentered hype, leading in the flesh. It’s done merely by carnal manipulation. I am convinced that the so-called church in America will simply show up for a

good show and not even really know or be able to discern if it is the Holy Spirit or not. It’s a good show, so we go and watch as spectators. But it might not be the Holy Spirit. I write this with brokenness. I write this with sadness. I write this as a warning as I pray today, “Lord, give us spiritual discernment to sense and know Your Spirit.” We have preachers today claiming to carry every kind of strange and unbiblical “anointing,” yet we see Christian religion void of the true, precious Holy Spirit. 6) Christianity Without Christ

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General Booth foresaw the rise of a form of pseudo-Christians, characterized as those who are “denying the Master who bought them” (2 Pet. 2:1, KJV). The bedrock of our message must always be the centrality of the person of Jesus Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:23, “We preach Christ crucified,” (NIV) and in verse 18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Why do we have such a powerless church today? Oh, we put on a good show and stir up a lot of soul-centered hype, which may result in large offerings. But there is little to no power of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because we do not preach the cross. We do not preach Christ crucified. Church, hear me: The cross is our power. A strong delusion that all religions need to simply “coexist”—that no matter what you believe, we can all still “get along”—is infiltrating the church today. It may sound good and “spiritual,” but it’s not scriptural. You can’t find that in the Bible, and I refuse to compromise the Word of God. May you who have “ears to hear” truly hear this timely prophetic warning. D r . J o e V a n K o e v e r i n g has been in ministry for more than 30 years. He is president of the national ministry God’s News and senior pastor of Gateway Christian Center in St. Petersburg, Fla. He has written multiple books prophetic in nature and has a heart for end-time events and proclaiming the truth of God’s Word. 32 MinistryToday March // April 2013


BEHIND A P R I L

2 5 - 2 7

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Dallas Convention Center I 650 South Griffin Street I Dallas, TX 75202

"God would not have given you the vision if He did not trust you with it. But, we must act now and equip you, so that NO church is left behind!" -Bishop T.D. Jakes


Praying for the

Peace of Jer

A guide to better understand our vital response to Israel in the last days

T

he Bible instructs us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6). For tens of millions of Christians in America, this admonition means standing for the modern state of Israel and its right to exist in accordance with God’s will and plan. Yet on a practical level, some Christians find themselves unprepared when confronted by those who cite Israel as an occupying oppressor of the Palestinians or an obstacle to peace due to its failure to return to pre1967 borders. I often hear believers respond by saying

that God gave the land to Abraham’s descendants, not to the Palestinians, and leave it at that. While this response is certainly accurate, it’s also incomplete. It fails to refute the frequently heard charge that Israel cares more about land than peace, ma k ing war inevitable. As Christian leaders, we have the biblical responsibility to respond in full, and the best way to do that is to intentionally educate ourselves on the story of the modern state of Israel. Below, I’ve provided a broad timeline to help us better understand that story.

1917

© Shutterstock/Jorge Sanchez

Politically speaking, the story begins when Lord Balfour, a British Christian, issues the Balfour Declaration, stating that Great Britain favors the Zionist aim of a Jewish state in Palestine. In those days, Palestine included what we now call Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. All of it was part of God’s original land grant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Genesis, which actually extended far beyond Palestine.

Kerak Castle in Kerak, Jordan While serving as Britain’s foreign secretary from 1916 to 1919, Lord Arthur Balfour (left) began the process of securing a “national home for the Jewish people”

34 MinistryToday March // April 2013

1922

Britain, which now occupies Palestine, sets aside nearly 80 percent of its land for its Arab population, calling the new entity Transjordan, which today is known as the Kingdom of Jordan.


MINISTRY IN THE LAST DAYS

usalem: A Primer By Charles Gordon

1947

continued on page 48

Though the Arab enemies of the Jews chose the wrong side during the war, they receive a further concession after it. In November 1947, the United Nations votes in favor of a Partition Plan which gives a portion of what was left of Palestine to the Arabs. This is in addition to the original 80 percent, which became Transjordan. As was the case in 1922 when Transjordan was created, the Jews accept this compromise while the Arabs oppose it. Once again, violence erupts, including massacres of Jews. Hebron’s Avraham Avinu Synagogue was descrated by Arab rioters during the 1929 massacre that left 67 Jews dead

1929

Though this allotment leaves only 20 percent of original Palestine for the Jewish people, the Zionist settlers accept this compromise while the Arabs oppose it. A series of violent attacks on Jewish settlements follows, including the notorious Hebron massacre on Aug. 23, 1929. The Arab Muslim use of bloodshed to terrorize and traumatize Jews into leaving the land is endorsed by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Like many in the Arab Muslim Middle East, the Grand Mufti supported Adoph Hitler’s murderous Nazi regime during World War II. The Grand Mufti actually moved to Germany, where he publicly supported the Holocaust and lobbied Hitler to bring it to Palestine. © Istockphoto/chelovek

Following World War II, Great Britain relinquished authority over Palestine’s border issues to the United Nations, resulting in the 1947 Partition Plan

March // April 2013 MinistryToday   35


1948

Less than a year later, on May 14, 1948, the British leave the land, and the modern State of Israel is born. For Christians who took God’s ancient Word and promises literally, it is a stunning fulfillment of biblical prophecy, as His exiled people come home and re-establish a Jewish commonwealth for the first time in 20 centuries. For Jews, it is a bittersweet victory, coming three years after the Nazi Holocaust in Europe that destroyed 6 million lives. But for the enemies of Zionism, it is the crowning indignity, which could not stand. Following Israel’s birth, the surrounding countries attack the new nation, seeking its destruction and the extermination of its people. Against all odds, Israel defends itself successfully, thwarting the multipronged assault on her people. Clearly, the events leading up to Israel’s creation reveal a pattern. From the beginning, events proved the Jews were willing to accept a state of any size, even if smaller than original Palestine, Capt. Avraham “Bren” Adan raises an let alone the size Israeli flag at Eilat, marking the end of God’s original of the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli War promise to Abraham and His descendants. At the same time, their Arab adversaries consistently rejected any such state, no matter how small. Even when given the lion’s share of Palestine in 1922, and more land in 1947, they refused. Before Israel was created, they sought to drive the Jews out of the land; after Israel was created, they attempted to destroy her. Another pattern is this: The foes of Zionism learned that by attacking the Jews, they were engaging in no-risk aggression. If they won, the Jews would be gone, and there would be no Jewish state. But if they lost, and the Jews remained, the world community would still support them. Rejecting the Transjordan concession in 1922 led to further concession through the 1947 Partition Plan. After 1948, the new state’s enemies continue to seek its demise by every means possible, from military to diplomatic. 36 MinistryToday March // April 2013

1967

The 1967 War marks a great turning point in this aggression. It commences Israeli tanks advance on the Golan Heights during the in May when President Nasser Six-Day War from June 5-10, 1967 of Egypt begins pouring troops into the Sinai Peninsula. Throughout the month, both Egypt and Syria proclaim that the goal is the long-sought destruction of Israel. Reiterating that peaceful co-existence is impossible, they pledge to put an end to “Zionist existence.” By the end of May, the leaders of Jordan agree to join them in their quest. Rather than allow itself to be invaded, as in 1948, Israel responds by attacking the Arab armies first. In six stunning days, Israel defeats these forces, once again preserving her existence. And this time, Israel’s enemies finally begin paying a price for their belligerence. Israel takes territory from her enemies, including the Golan Heights from Syria, the Sinai and Gaza from Egypt, and the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan. For Bible-believing Christians, Jerusalem’s full return into Jewish hands is yet another prophetic milestone, foretold in the Scriptures. For Jews, it is the miraculous return of their ancient capital. But for Israel’s enemies, it is another humiliating setback in their push for her extinction.

1973

1973 continued on page 38

Arab armies launch a surprise attack in Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. While Jews fast and pray in synagogues, enemy forces advance toward their state. With the help of arms from the United States, Israel fights back and prevails. Unable to vanquish Israel in battle, her foes resort increasingly to acts of terrorism. Formed in the 1960s to obliterate Israel, Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) commits countless atrocities against Israeli civilians. Along with surrounding Arab states, the PLO also launches an international propaganda war against Israel. As part of that war, they blame their refusal to make peace with Israel on Israel’s occupation of land taken in the 1967 War. Forgotten was the fact that they were at war with an Israel Egyptian forces cross the Suez Canal on Oct. 7, 1973, as part of a surprise attack on Israel to launch the Yom Kippur War of any size before 1967. Contrary to this propaganda, Israel since 1967 has repeatedly proved willing to cede land for peace. When they finally decide to recognize the state of Israel, the nations of Egypt and Jordan receive land back in return. ©istockphoto/chelovek


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1973 (continued) Ignoring these concessions, Israel’s vocal critics reply that she has failed to deal with the issue of Arabs displaced during the 1948 War of Independence. The premise is that Zionists drove out the Arabs and were fully responsible for their plight as refugees. Yet the reality is that during the war, the surrounding Arab nations deceptively encouraged many to flee, assuring them that they could come back once they crushed the Zionist foe. After the war, these same Arab nations refused to resettle these refugees, preferring to use them instead as a propaganda tool against Israel.

© World Economic Forum /Remy Steinegger

2000

Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat

2005

© Istockphoto/jcarillet

Despite this campaign, Israel offers Arafat a Palestinian state and in return asks for complete recognition by Arafat of Israel’s right to exist. This was precisely the agreement that Arafat had said he supported. His bluff called, Arafat responds by launching a multi-year terror campaign against Israel’s civilians.

An Israeli soldier stands guard in Bil’in, West Bank, as a protestor holds a Palestinian flag in the background

2013

Five years after this campaign, Israeli forces pull completely and unilaterally out of Gaza. Clearly, history refutes the canard that Israel’s holding onto land is harming the quest for peace in the Middle East. On the contrary, history shows that before there was an Israel, Jews were willing to accept a Jewish state of any size. History shows how her enemies were determined to prevent such a state from appearing. And history reveals that since Israel came into being, the pattern continues: Israel is willing to trade land for peace, while her foes want all of her land and her people driven out.

Today, history is again being forgotten. While much of the world remains obsessed about Israel, the Middle East is dominated by radical Islamist forces unalterably opposed to peace. With Syria torn by civil war and Iran moving ever closer to obtaining a nuclear bomb while it fuels terrorism against Israel, it remains astonishing how many westerners consider Israel the main obstacle to peace. For Christians who love the God of Israel, the Bible is clear that we must pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And for those who take the Word of God seriously, it is incumbent on us to bless and stand with the children of Israel. In the last days, as the world turns against the Jewish nation, it is vital that we as God’s people stand all the more with her. C h a r l e s G o r d o n (not his real name) is a Washington, D.C.-based writer. His articles have appeared in numerous publications across the nation, including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Seattle Times, Miami Herald and Houston Chronicle. 38 MinistryToday March // April 2013


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Is Your Church

Prepared for Coming Storms?

Being a physical and spiritual refuge in the last days can show Jesus to hurting people who need Him 40 MinistryToday March // April 2013


MINISTRY IN THE LAST DAYS

U

By Dr. Paul Williams

nprecedented! Historic! Record setting! These descriptors have become constants in recent headlines, specifically describing the increase in the frequency and severity of natural and man-made disasters throughout the world. Stories of flooding, wildfires, drought, unrelenting heat waves, earthquakes and tornadoes have filled the media. As a physician, I have spent 25 years organizing and leading medical teams on trips to a number of major world disasters in more than 100 nations throughout the world. Today I sense an urgency to challenge and prepare individuals and churches to be ready for these natural and man-made disasters. My experience responding to tsunami victims, earthquake survivors, refugees, etc., has shown me

Š Istockphoto/Malven

that by equipping our churches for disaster response, we can demonstrate the love of Jesus as we become salt and light to our communities. A Powerful Model for Disaster Response

When disaster strikes, how should your church respond? What role should you play? Should your church be a designated shelter? Does your church have a networking plan to collaborate with other churches in times of disasters? In my experience, the Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN), based in Austin, Texas, has created a model of networking churches for disaster response from which we all can learn. My hope is that their model will challenge you and your church to develop a similar network

March // April 2013 MinistryToday   41


in your community. For example, in September 2011 wildfires destroyed more than 1,700 homes in Central Texas, devastating three small towns and impacting one-third of those living in these communities. In the aftermath, ADRN quickly responded, providing emergency officials with more than 300 trained Critical Incident Stress Management volunteers and 125 pastors to debrief more than 1,400 traumatized individuals as they returned to their communities. The Network quickly implemented a call center filled with praying Christian responders and managed an estimated 500 to 750 calls per day in the first three to five days. An army of volunteers began the cleanup of more than 125 homes. ADRN’s churches also opened and managed more than 100,000 square feet of warehouse space to meet the immediate demands for organized donation relief. To date, the Network, founded less than four years ago by Daniel Geraci, has now trained more than 3,000 volunteers in more than 115 churches. What makes this organization’s model so effective and powerful? One aspect is the Network’s ultimate goal to adopt families affected by disasters through the network of churches. Thus far, churches in the Network have adopted more than 500 families, helping to rebuild homes and lives. Additionally, disaster funds given to ADRN are then funneled back to the churches that have adopted families. This process ties the aid to the families with the local church; often, friends and neighbors will administer the assistance. The Network continues to report that families receiving help through the local church often become much more open to the gospel. In my experience, I’ve found the same to be true. One of the most effective ways to bring people to Jesus is through meeting practical needs of hurting people—particularly in times of disaster. I have seen thousands of people receive Christ through the medical mission efforts I have led and have long viewed my involvement with medical missions and medical care during disaster relief efforts as being the point of contact between Jesus and hurting people in crisis. 42 MinistryToday March // April 2013

Churches at the Center of Preparedness: Why and How

“Preparedness training can provide a potentially life-saving impact on your church and community.” Another crucial element leading to the Network’s effectiveness is the extensive ongoing training it offers to churches, leaders and volunteers—including nationally and internationally recognized FEMA-backed Community Emergency Response Team training (CERT) and Critical Incident Stress Management training (CISM). I believe CISM training is critical for church volunteers who want to counsel with victims traumatized by disasters. Other training includes a six-week DVD individual and family preparedness course ca lled “Prepa redness Peace,” HAM radio training, CPR/ first aid training, chaplaincy training, four different spiritual training courses and specific leadership trainings. Preparedness training can provide a potentially life-saving impact on your church and community.

Current research indicates that only 5 to 10 percent of the nation’s population is prepared for a natural or man-made disaster. This lack of preparedness puts our entire local and national disaster response plans and capabilities at risk of being overwhelmed. We saw it when Katrina ravaged the Gulf. Churches can and should play a significant role in increasing the percentage of people who are prepared physically and spiritually for the challenges that lie ahead for our nation and world. This kind of preparation will enhance the efforts of your church to bring people to faith in Jesus. 11 Reasons for Your Church to Engage in Disaster Relief

1) Churches inspire trust. They can provide a setting in which many people come to know and trust each other, giving disaster victims a legitimate place to find help and heal. 2) Worship services provide necessary communication channels. They become a setting where information can be disseminated and education and training can happen. Most people haven’t taken the time to prepare for disasters due to the time and effort required. Doing this through your church would be particularly helpful for those who work long hours, for those who lead single-parent families, and for the elderly and other special-needs individuals. 3) Churches know how to mobilize volunteer leadership. Identify and recruit a volunteer to spearhead the disaster relief effort and take the load off the pastoral staff. Members specializing in disaster response can share valuable information and training with other church members. 4) Churches can identify specialneeds parishioners. During emergencies, develop plans to assist those with special needs (single-parent families, the elderly and those who are physically disabled). Identify people with special needs and make plans to check on and assist them. 5) Churches establish compassionate ministries. Start a food pantry and clothing storage area for those who are in need—both within your congregation


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and for your community. 6) Church buildings can function as a community shelter. In times of emergencies and disasters, churches are often used as community shelters. Before disaster strikes, check with your city or town on what’s needed to designate your building as an official emergency shelter. 7) Churches provide comfort and spiritual solace. During disaster, churches are a logical place for many people to seek solace, comfort and spiritual help. 8) Churches can network with community disaster response efforts. Develop established relationships within your community and be able to

such as the Salvation Army, have some type of disaster relief program. The North American Mission Board has one of the most vigorous and extensive disaster relief programs. The Assemblies of God have MAPS (Mission America Placement Service). Regardless of your church’s size, you have the ability to impact your community as you respond to people in their greatest need and darkest time. The following two stories of how small churches responded to disaster illustrate the power of engagement. Randy Barton is the visionary pastor of Anchor Baptist Church in Brevard, N.C. In 1985, the small church

“Regardless of your church’s size, you can impact your community as you respond to people in their greatest need and darkest time.”

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respond in a coordinated way with local emergency agencies (like Austin Disaster Relief Network’s model). 9) Churches teach their people to share their faith. With training, the ministerial staff can teach and train people how to share their faith in times of crisis. 10) Churches can take an active role in cooperating with local disaster response organizations. Look for and develop formal partnerships with local Emergency Operation Centers, Citizen Councils, NVOAD (National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) and FEMA. 11) A church can cooperate with other churches and compassionate ministries. Networks of churches working together in compassionate ministries before disaster strikes will be much more effective through their combined efforts in the wake of a disaster or crisis. Churches of Any Size

Some larger churches have disaster relief programs, but many do not. Some respond only after the fact with no real coordinated process, making their response efforts less effective and less efficient. And many denominations, 44 MinistryToday March // April 2013

began a food bank to meet local needs, particularly those of the elderly. When Hurricane Hugo hit North Carolina in 1989, Anchor Baptist responded to the call for relief workers. This started the church on an intentional path of growing compassionate ministry. In 2006, Anchor Baptist built a 17,500-squarefoot modern warehouse that doubles as a disaster shelter, with hot water pipes underneath to warm the floors. The warehouse can shelter hundreds of people at one time and has its own generator and water source, as well as good bathroom facilities. The church has organized boxes for meals, clothing for children, home supplies, personal care, baby care and cleanup. They’ve identified crews for chainsaw operations, carpentry, heavy equipment and transportation. Anchor Baptist long ago shifted from just meeting local needs to being a hub to supply many other ministries and churches with basic relief supplies. The network that Anchor Baptist has developed includes hundreds of churches and compassionate ministries. Another church making an impact— literally around the world—is Evangel Worship Center located in Concord,


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of families we touched with the love of God. “We purchased our first building in 1995, and, like many ministries do, dedicated a room to hold clothing and food for those in our community. In 2002, we moved to our current facility, a converted 60,000-square-foot warehouse with pallet racks and forklifts. We use part of the building for our sanctuary, classrooms and offices, and part to store our aid.

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“Now each month, we send out multiple short-term teams. One to two teams are going into places such as China, Haiti, Mexico, Guatemala, Macedonia, Africa and numerous others. We outfit teams from other churches and ministries as well.” Note the characteristics common to the experience of these two smaller congregations in developing their compassionate ministries and disaster response capabilities: 1) Both started small, and the outreaches naturally grew to meet the expanding opportunities to minister to those in need. 2) Both have established local community relationships, as well as national compassionate ministry relationships. 3) Both ministries have been recognized by local, state and national governmental agencies. 4) Both have been designated to fill particular niches in relief work and disaster response in their local communities. 5) Both have become a hub to provide food, clothing and supplies for other churches and ministries. 6) Both provide supplies to teams addressing international needs as well as relief work in the United States. We face storms on the horizon in these last days. As you lead and prepare your church to be a true beacon of light amid increasingly dark times, let me encourage you with a couple of Scripture passages:   “A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them. The simpleton never looks and suffers the consequences” (Prov. 27:12, TLB).   “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’ ” (Ps. 91:1-2, NIV). D r . P a u l W i l l i a m s has felt a calling to use medicine and compassionate ministries as a way to express the love of Jesus to hurting people around the world. His experiences during more than 25 years in medical missions in 105 nations gives him a unique perspective on world events and human suffering. His book, When All Plans Fail, guides church leaders through the process of disaster preparedness and relief. 46 MinistryToday March // April 2013


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Ministry Life: c h i l d r e n ’ s

ministry

By Kenny Conley

Is Your Children’s Ministry Safe? Five simple ways to create a secure environment

Update or create a ministry policy manual. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Borrow, copy and tweak what you see and put one together. Check out childrensministryonline.com for online examples of policy manuals. Make it a policy that workers are never alone with a child. Always have at least two adults with any child. This has been my cardinal rule for more than a decade. It protects the church, child and worker. If you have to speak to a child alone, pull him or her aside where you are in eyeshot of at least one other adult. If you need to help a child in the bathroom, be sure there is a set of eyes on you, watching you. Make it a policy that if only one adult shows up to help, the room is closed. This is why we 48 MinistryToday March // April 2013

always have three volunteers/staff in a room. If someone needs to leave to get help or supplies, two are left. And if someone doesn’t show up, we still have two and can open the room. Train your volunteers. Yes, volunteers don’t flock to training meetings. So get creative. Put a quick five-minute training on Vimeo or YouTube. Go over training points in your pre-service meetings. Make sure every volunteer knows the essential policies and safety procedures. Perform background checks and screen all staff and every volun teer. R e g a rd le s s of how often someone works, if they have access to kids, they should be screened. If you don’t run background checks, do it—no excuses. If your leadership says no, give them multiple reasons why background checks are a non-negotiable. Several companies offer legitimate checks that take a day to complete for about $7-$12 per person. Make sure the company performs an identity check (be sure to look at the photo identification to ensure they are who they say they are), a criminal background check and a national sex-offenders check. Screen volunteers as well. Ask them to complete an application and call their references. This process will weed out most people who would bring harm. Update your evacuation, emergency and intruder policies/procedures. Do your volunteers know what to do if something happens? Make sure they do (this is an area we’re working on right now). Think safety now and always. K e n n y C o n l e y is the Next Generation Pastor at Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas. A children’s pastor for more than 11 years, Conley has a passion for equipping and encouraging those who pastor and work with kids by sharing ideas, training and giving away “things that have worked for him.”

MinistryResource Kenny Conley is the voice behind childrensministry.com, a website resource for children’s ministry leaders full of ideas, strategies and solutions via articles, videos and a growing online community of support.

© Istockphoto/CEFutcher

W

ith the spate of recent national tragedies in the last few months, all parents are asking, “Is this a safe place for our kids?” That includes churches. As children’s ministry leaders, we’re charged to take our role as both physical and spiritual guardians very seriously, and we should do everything we reasonably can to make our ministry environments a safe place for kids to come. It’s too important to “wing it” or think that the chances of something happening are slim. Ask yourself and your team: Where are the weak spots in our ministry? Where are the places that need to be shored up to keep kids, families and volunteers secure and safe? Here’s the cha llenge. Take action on at least one thing this week. It’s worth the effort and if it’s a visible change, it tells parents, “We care about your child’s safety.” Recently, we made a slight change. We posted signs on all our doors letting parents know that our ministry areas lock down 15 minutes after the service begins. The doors actually lock and anyone coming in after that time has to be escorted. We also amped up our security check to make sure that every adult walking into our ministry areas had claim tags. Several parents expressed appreciation. Everyone is thinking about security right now. The challenge for you, however, is to continue to hold the banner of security high. Although everyone is especially raw right now, it will pass. Security won’t be at the forefront of everyone’s mind, unfortunately—but it must be for you. Here are some simple reminders of easy steps to take:


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Ministry Life: fa m i ly

B y H u gh H a l t e r

Modeling Jesus’ Heart for Our Kids Who’s discipling your family: you or your church?

Generally, we understand the word discipleship to mean teaching the truths of Scripture, the doctrine and theology of God, and establishing the moral codes of the faith. All this is good, but only if we understand the fuller meaning of Jesus’ idea of what a disciple is. When He used the word, He actually meant what we might call an apprentice. Western—non-participatory—discipleship is satisfied when a person knows concepts about God, but apprenticeship isn’t satisfied until the person has learned to live the life of God. This is a simple but profound switch in thinking for several reasons: God is going to hold us accountable, especially with regard to our children. More specifically, God wants us to form not just doctrine, theology and moral codes in our kids; He wants us to form the very life of Jesus in them. Apprenticeship puts the onus on us as parents, not the other pastors in our church. Pastoral staff can disciple your

MinistryResource In Sacrilege, author Hugh Halter helps readers rethink what it really means to become like Jesus, inspiring readers to rethink the way they understand Scripture, family, spiritual formation, conversion, church, sin and more. 50 MinistryToday March // April 2013

kids, but the one who is designed to spend the most time and who can actually model the life of Jesus is you. Apprenticeship creates kingdom citizens. It’s a strange concept, but Jesus actually warned His apprentices to watch out for the “leaven of the Pharisees.” The leaven was the doctrinefocused spiritual fervency that naturally extracted them from truly loving people. Jesus didn’t come to belittle them or suggest that Scriptural knowledge and moral living was bad, but He did come to fulfill, enlarge and expand what true spiritual formation was. He came to model a holistic life where doctrine, theology, knowledge and morality were coupled with love, mercy, faith and action. Western, non-participatory discipleship tends to shrivel the heart, whereas active apprenticeship actually helps Jesus come alive in the heart. Paul summed up the power of kingdom apprenticeship this way, and it should be the goal of every parent: That “Christ be formed in you” (Gal. 4:19, KJV). That involves the whole life of Jesus, which includes: ● The mind of Jesus and how He viewed people and His calling to be faithful to the Father. ● The heart of Jesus that broke over the things that broke the Father’s heart. ● The character of Jesus that protected Him and gave Him street cred with people. ● The mission of Jesus, which gave Him purpose and clarity for His life. All parents want the character of Christ, the heart of Jesus or mind of Jesus to be developed in their children, but maybe not the life or mission of Jesus. His character is safe, but to be honest, if your children get the heart of Jesus, they may choose to live a life of service that makes you squirm. They may not go after the American dream as many of us have. They may instead seek justice, live for the poor and put themselves in harm’s way. So the gut check begins with us: Do you really want all of Jesus to be developed in your children? Excerpted from the free Exponential Resources Series free eBook, A Righteous Brood by Hugh Halter. For more information, go to exponential.org. H u g h H a l t e r is the national director of Missio, a ministry team committed to training, developing and apprenticing incarnational leaders for the church. He is also lead architect of Adullum, a local movement of missional communities in Denver, Colo. He is author of Sacrilege and co-author (with Matt Smay) of The Tangible Kingdom, and the accompanying Tangible Kingdom Primer, as well as AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church. Halter is an advocate for disoriented God-seekers and loves to inspire and re-orient leaders around the mission of God.

© Istockphoto/comptine

T

heologically, we know that the church is called to leave what’s comfortable and propel itself out into the darkness as light, living the counter-culture life of the kingdom of God. But here’s a question all leaders need to consider: How can a church accomplish that mission unless the families of the church are living with that same mindset? Every church would be “missional” if the parents understood their role in discipling their children.


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Ministry Life: s t e wa r d s h i p

By Jeff Shinabarger

How Much Is Enough?

Use this social experiment to identify excess and motivate generosity in your church

I

t was a frank conversation about money with other leaders at our church. We tackled what most of middleclass America considers a taboo subject and faced some hard truths. As a result, I was awakened to my habits and how they influenced the financial situation of our closest friends. For example, in our community of friends eating out had become our cultural gathering point— chu rch a nd then lu nch. It had become our Sunday ritual. We love to eat together. Unfortunately, t h is r it u a l wa s cau si ng friends to increase their personal indebtedness to credit card companies. How did we get to this point in our habits?

my needs and wants. Sometimes less can do more. How you define enough may be different from how I see it. I can’t determine what you need. I have found the best starting point is a social experiment. Sarah Flemming, an administrative assistant at Connexus Community Church in Ontario, pursued a social experiment to buy nothing new (no new products purchased from a store ot her t ha n food) for a year. Her goal was to put t he excess money i nto places that needed it more than her desires. For toiletries, she could restock on l y w hen e ver y t h i ng was used completely. She didn’t even pay for haircuts (friends cut her hair). Fulfilling Two By the end of the yearHuman Needs long experiment, Sara h We had taken two genuhad gained great wisdom: ine needs (food and friend“The more we get, the ship) and chosen a luxury more we want. When will (going out to eat) as a way we stop believing in stuff? to fulfill those needs. As J e f f S h i n a b a r g e r is the author of More or Less: Choosing a Life- We buy things we don’t w e t a l k e d o p e n l y, w e style of Excessive Generosity, releasing in March. He is a social entre- need; meanwhile, we have agreed we needed to make preneur, experienced designer, cofounder of the Q event and creative neighbors in need.” some lifestyle changes. We director at Catalyst. He’s been featured in national media such as CNN, Sarah now has a fresh all agreed we didn’t need NPR and Relevant Magazine and has been interviewed by the Atlanta v iew towa rd needs a nd to go out to an expensive Journal-Constitution and the Chicago Sun-Times, among others. He and wa nts. Her intentiona l restaurant to meet these his family live in East Atlanta Village. commitment to live on needs and took the opporless inspired her commutunity to forge a new way. nity to do more. Now, five leaders in her church have We began having lunches together in our home, and adapted her experiment to their lives, purchasing nothing everyone brought a dish. Or we gathered for games and des- new for a year. Including her pastor, Carey Nieuwhof. sert later that evening. As we started to place a higher value When one leader in one community determines what on community over convenience, our friendships reached is enough, it ignites a community to think and live differnew depths. ently. Your example of choosing to live with less moves In every community, people live in need and in excess. your community toward a more generous lifestyle. What What is enough? would happen if you and your church wrestled with the question of enough? A Poignant Experiment

52 MinistryToday March // April 2013

MinistryResource In More or Less, Jeff Shinabarger teaches readers how to draw a line of “enough” in their consumer choices; how to see generosity as a chance to experience freedom in a greedy world; and how to make small changes now that will help others forever.

Jessie Parks

This critical question will define our personal lives. It’s too easy to be taken over by desire. When we define enough, we step off the conveyor belt of consumerism and create a new intentional rhythm of life. Over time, advertisers, credit cards and the quest for more lose their control. I personally no longer feel pushed around by others choosing


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Ministry Leadership:

C U LT U R E

By Robert Crosby

Are You an Empowered or Empowering Leader? How you value people has direct impact on the kingdom

A

re you choosing to be an empowered leader or an empowering one? The results for each one couldn’t be more opposite—or impacting. A leader whose focus is holding on to power will ultimately cause a ministry team to fall apart. A leader who centers on others will grow that team and ultimately develop more leaders who empower others to build the kingdom.

OTHERS-CENTERED LEADERSHIP: Do the people on your team feel like they can say “no” to you or disagree with you? R o b e r t C r o s b y is an author and professor of practical theology at Southeastern University. His latest book is The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press).

Teams don’t need empowered leaders but leaders who are truly empowering who know that serving a church and ministry team is an honor and privilege. They make their mark not by controlling the team but by challenging, facilitating and empowering the individuals on the team to realize their collective potential for God’s Kingdom purposes. A Self-Assessment

How do you know if you’re empowered or empowering? Ask yourself some important questions and be honest with your answers: Is my leadership more about my own power or empowering the team I’m leading? When people on my team talk, am I really listening to them or am I thinking about what I’m going to say next in response? Does my team feel free to say “no” to me or is their response to me always “yes”? Do I really want and seek out people for my leadership teams who will disagree with me? Do I effectively empower the people on my team? If not, why not? If so, how can I be even better at developing leaders? 54 MinistryToday March // April 2013

A leader who focuses on holding power instead of using it: ● monopolizes team discussions. ● fails to delegate responsibilities to the team regularly. ● has to oversee (or micromanage) every church project. ● doesn’t include the team in new hires interview process. From Empowered to Empowering

What does it take for leaders to become empowering? The first area of change must be humility. The second is genuine interest in the lives and growth of the people you lead. The team leader is the ministry’s cultural architect and the pacesetter for the full potential of the team’s effectiveness. Perhaps the main picture of a disconnected church (or team) in the New Testament was the Corinthian church. If the “big idea” of Paul’s first letter to Corinth could be whittled down to a declarative statement, it would probably read, and I’ll paraphrase: “Don’t compare yourselves. Don’t condemn others. Don’t condone sin. Don’t compete with each other. Don’t campaign for your own interests. Rather, commune with God and each other. Live and serve as one.” Empowering leaders consistently study and communicate how everything and everyone in their team circle connects. Paul paints a picture of how the roles of believers and team members differ but also of how they have in common this idea of being a part of a greater body. He uses a “supporting ligaments” metaphor in Ephesians: “Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part” (Eph. 4:15-16, CEB; italics mine). While other body parts such as the heart and the head get much more press and attention in sermons and seminars today, Paul draws out a less familiar reference: the supporting ligaments. Physiologically, ligaments are the tough, fibrous tissues that connect our bones and create joints. In a very real sense, our ligaments hold our frame together. They literally keep us from falling apart. Paul draws upon this image to urge the believers of Ephesus to work hard at being joined, held together and built up. Paul, a true teaming leader, calls leaders to do a better job of not only working, but working together. It’s what teaming leaders do.

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Ministry Leadership:

discipleship

By Francis Chan

Do You Have the Heart of a Disciple Maker? Sobering questions every leader should ask as you prepare for ministry

W

hy do you want to make disciples? Have you ever asked yourself that question? As followers of Christ, we should be focused on making disciples. But if we don’t do it with the right motives, we are simply wasting our time. Worse yet, we could be doing more harm than good. If God cared only about outward appearances and our participation in religious activities, then any effort toward ministry would please Him. The Pharisees would have been heroes of the faith. After all, they were continuously engaged in ministry: They vigorously pursued outward demonstrations of godliness; they made sure the people around them kept themselves holy; and they diligently taught the law of God. And yet Jesus’ harshest words in Scripture were always reserved for these religious overachievers. Clearly, God wants us to pursue certain actions, but as we put His commands into action, our motivation makes all the difference.

Fulfilling Jesus’ command to make disciples is about more than having the right theology or well-developed teaching points. Remember that if you “understand all mysteries and all knowledge” yet don’t have love, you are nothing. If you’re not willing to make loving God and loving people your highest priority, then stop. Honestly assessing your heart and asking God to purify your motives need to become habits in your life.

Love Comes First

Adapted with permission. Copyright © 2012 Francis Chan and Mark Beuving. Multiply, published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

“It may be better not to teach at all than to teach truth without modeling it.”

Teaching by Example

One of the worst things we can do as leaders is teach truths we’re not applying in our own lives. It may be better not to teach at all than to teach truth without modeling it. Hypocrisy has damaged many, so let’s run far from it. Maybe the clearest explanation of teaching by example can be found in Hebrews: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Heb. 13:7, ESV). The author of Hebrews actually F r a n c i s C h a n is the best-selling author of Multiply, called us to consider—literally, “to Teaching Is Dangerous Crazy Love, Forgotten God and Erasing Hell, and the examine carefully”—the outcome of Maybe you’ve always seen your- host of the BASIC. series (“Who Is God” and “We Are a teacher’s lifestyle. If we are going self as a leader. You have a message Church”). He is the founding pastor of Cornerstone to make disciples, we need to be putthe church needs to hear, and you’re Church in Simi Valley, Calif., and currently is working ting our faith into practice so that ready to teach anyone who will lis- to start a church-planting movement in the inner city of the people around us can imitate ten. Remember that God wants us San Francisco and to launch a discipleship movement our faith. Because of this, being a disciple to be cautious as we lead. Remem- across America. maker demands your entire life. The ber that you will be teaching people job description of a disciple maker is the same as that of a disabout the Bible and guiding them into godly living. The Bible ciple of Jesus. It means following Jesus in every aspect of your takes the role of a teacher very seriously, and so should we. As a life, pursuing Him with a wholehearted devotion. If you’re not disciple maker, you could make a huge impact for the kingdom ready to lay down your life for Christ’s sake, then you’re not of God. Or you could lead people horribly astray. ready to make disciples. It’s that simple.

56 MinistryToday March // April 2013

MinistryResource In Multiply , Francis Chan cencourage followers in their biblical responsibility to make disciples and to help them makde disciplesby sharing the life of Christ before others, sharing the gospel of Christ and teaching the Word to others.

Daley Hake

Paul added a challenge from a different angle. In the most beautiful terms, he said that gaining knowledge and power— even sacrificing our own bodies—is completely worthless apart from love (1 Cor. 13:1-3). Are you the type of person who would teach someone without loving them? Many good pastors have confessed that they got so caught up in the busyness of ministry that they went through the motions without loving their people. Most of us have to work hard to keep love at the forefront.


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Ministry Outreach:

e va n g e l i s m

By Darren Wilson

Planting the Word of God

Are we looking for the harvest without the commitment to farm the soil?

“Too often, when our motivation is for results, the evangelism becomes more for us than it does for the people to whom we’re witnessing.” it’s probably safe to say that the last six years have given me a new perspective and quite an education on what God is doing around the world, as well as which evangelism methods are working around the world and which ones are seemingly slogging through quicksand. The politically correct statement here would be to say that as long as those trying to evangelize are preaching the basics of the gospel, then we should just be happy, no matter their methods. But I can’t help but wonder if one form of evangelism is more effective than the other. I suppose the question we must first answer is: What exactly are you hoping to accomplish in your evangelism? For most of my life, the goal was always to lead someone to salvation—in essence, to get them to sign on the dotted 58 MinistryToday March // April 2013

line. Your ability to either get a lot of people or a few to sign would ultimately determine whether you and your outreach were truly “effective.” But having been witness to some of the most incredible God moments ever caught on film for the past six years, I wonder if maybe our job isn’t to go out and create converts, but rather to be authentic dispensers of love. Consider the Parable of the Sower. In Luke 8:5-8, Jesus tells the story of the sower, giving us an image of someone randomly spreading seed. Jesus then explains the parable, telling us that the seed is the Word of God. We, then, are the dispensers of that seed. What’s the best way to dispense that seed? Do we stand on a street corner and preach? Or do we simply do nice things for people, such as build houses? Do we try to talk people into accepting the seed intellectually? Do we prove God’s existence and love through signs and wonders and miracles? I contend that the path is not as important as the motive. We are called to be sowers of the seed, not necessarily reapers. But it seems that the church as a whole is preoccupied with reaping a harvest, especially a harvest they many times have no intention of planting, tilling and fertilizing. We want the crop but without the mess of farming. Too often, when our motivation is for results, the evangelism becomes more for us than it does for the people to whom we’re witnessing. When the motivation is love with no motive behind it, the results drastically change. If some of the seed is ready to be harvested, wonderful. If the seed is still blooming, great. If we’re simply planting on new soil, great. Our goal must never be to reap a harvest but instead to plant the Word of God. No one wants to be someone’s project or goal. Everyone wants to be loved. As God’s agents here on earth, we’re called to love the one in front of us without an agenda. It is the greatest seed we will ever sow.   D a r r e n W i l s o n is the founder of Wanderlust Productions and the creator of the film trilogy Father of Lights, Finger of God and Furious Love. He is currently Artist-in-Residence at Judson University, where he worked as a class professor before moving into film production full time.

MinistryResource Father of Lights from Darren Wilson (featuring Reinhard Bonnke, Matthew Barnett, Mike Bickle, etc.) attempts to tear away much of the bad press Christianity has received and reveals a God far better than anyone could possibly imagine.

© Istockphoto/Bluberries

I

’m not an evangelist or a pastor. I’m not even a Bible teacher or a youth minister. I’m a filmmaker, attempting to do the near impossible for my films. I attempt to visibly film an invisible God. Having traveled the world to make my first three feature films, Finger of God, Furious Love and Father of Lights,


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Ministry Outreach:

missions

By Rich Stearns

A Five-Point Checkup

Are you falling into any traps that keep you from fulfilling your mission to save?

A

s I have had the opportunity to speak to groups of training programs, should be evaluated with one simple pastors over these past few years, I have identified five criteria: Will these things we’re focusing on and using our different traps I believe churches often fall into—traps resources for enhance our ability and motivation to complete that prevent our churches from realizing their full potential to the mission given to us by Jesus or not? change the world for Christ. Most churches will find they have 4) We have allowed apathy to replace outrage. World Vision’s slid into one or two of these traps to one degree or another. founder, Bob Pierce, was known for his famous prayer: “Let Some will have avoided them all. my heart be broken by the things Either way, just being aware of a trap that break the heart of God.” Have helps keep one from falling prey to it we so domesticated God in the in the first place. 21st century that we have forgotten Below are the five traps to conthe wrath of God toward sin and sider. Do one or more characterize evil? Where is our sense of grief you or your church? and moral anger over the fact that 1) We have valued belief above behavaccording to the U.S. 2011 Census ior. So many of our churches have Bureau and the Urban Institute, hung their hats on right belief. Don’t one in five American children lives get me wrong. Right belief is imporbelow the poverty line? We no lontant, but without right behavior it is ger feel the heat of outrage against little more than hypocrisy (James things that anger God. 2:18-19). I would argue it’s not what 5) We have prioritized the institution we believe that counts most to over the revolution. This trap is perGod, but rather what we do with haps just the summary of the first those beliefs. four. When we invest all our enerLoving our enemies, living with gies and resources into building integrity, caring for the sick, feeding and sustaining an institution, it is the hungry and being generous with deceptively easy to lose sight of the our possessions don’t ever seem to R i c h S t e a r n s is president of World Vision and specific reason the institution exists divide or make enemies. Sometimes author of the award-winning The Hole in Our Gospel in the first place. we believe so passionately that we and the upcoming Unfinished: Believing Is Only As I read back throug h my are right that we end up being dead the Beginning. descriptions of these five traps, I right, ultimately chasing away the have to acknowledge that I did not very people in our sphere of influence that Christ wants us mince any words. Please realize that my passion comes out of to reach. a conviction that Christ commissioned His church to literally 2) We have replaced exhortation with explanation. Far too many storm the gates of hell in a life-or-death struggle for the hearts sermons bat around theological ideas. They quote a few verses, and souls of men and women. There is just so much at stake tell a few stories, throw in a line from C.S. Lewis but never chal- when churches lose their vision and passion for the great mislenge the congregation to change anything in their lives. The sion of Christ in our world. The church is God’s plan to change job of the church is not merely to explain the truth but to use the world and win it for Christ. That’s why it is so very importhe truth to bring about life change. Some pastors seem afraid tant that we as leaders of the church get it right. Adapted from Unfinished: Believing Is Only the Beginning to confront or offend their congregations by challenging them with the considerable demands the Lord makes upon those (Thomas Nelson, April 2013) by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. who choose to follow Him. 3) We have turned inward instead of outward. When our churches become attractive social clubs, our church programs end up MinistryResource focusing too much on our needs and too little on the needs of Unfinished by Rich Stearns calls readers to live for God’s kingthose outside the church. Consequently, we become what some dom rather than their own, inviting them to evaluate their life call “holy huddles.” purpose from a spiritual perspective and to view every day Every element of our church programs, from the strobe through an eternal lens. lights and smoke machines to the buildings and discipleship 60 MinistryToday March // April 2013


» continued from page 22 darkness, they must equally disappear from the light. The light must become more pure, more radically light. I wrote The Harbinger as a book of hope—a call to salvation, repentance and revival. And that hope is linked to another dynamic of the last days—the dynamic of return. In other words, the age comes full circle. What was in the

beginning must return in the end. The fact that this article is being written by a Jewish believer in Messiah is part of that dynamic. The first believers ministered to an un-Christian, anti-Christian, pagan civilization. And so now we do, as well. But those first believers didn’t let the darkness weaken their witness—just the opposite. They became even stronger. They made their choice, they drew their line in the sand, and they ministered

Just taking communion helps people grasp awesome spiritual truths by engaging their 5 senses—showing them a Roman scourging whip, Roman crucifixion nails and a crown of thorns speaks volumes to saint and sinner alike regarding the high price Jesus was willing to pay for their redempon hese visual aids are not only for ood Friday service hey can be used year round as evangelism tools, communion aids, and youth groups Please visit our website at wwwnaturesdesignsonlinecom to get the rest of your uesons answered f you forget the long address, just oogle “Roman cat of nine tails” We are at the top of the first page We are a small business, so please call soon because the supply is limited Joel Donahoe (509) 833-0902 E-Mail— jdonahoe02@aolcom

62 MinistryToday March // April 2013

all out, uncompromisingly, on fire, unstoppable for God. The result was the book of Acts, where the disciples put into action all they’ve learned about and Jesus over the last three years walking and serving with Him. And God anointed it. We must do the same. And I fervently believe God will anoint it. Time to Stand

No matter what happens in America or in the world, we must never minister on the defense or live in reaction to the darkness. We must, instead, still advance and act upon it. In the end there is only one winning side, and it belongs to those who walk in the will and purposes of God. Evil cannot stop those purposes. Last year was filled with key tipping points in the American apostasy. But it was also the year in which the The Harbinger’s warning and call to repentance began to spread across the nation. That message continues to spread through pulpits, church classrooms, Bible studies and word-of-mouth, with reports of repentance, salvation and revival. In recent days, reports have come back that The Harbinger is now reaching Capitol Hill. Members of Congress are reading the book and taking it to heart. One leader called us to come to Washington to pray. There, inside the U.S. Capitol building, we were taken to a room in which a number of senators and representatives gather to pray. We were told they are praying for you—the pastor, the church leader—that you would proclaim and spread the Word of God uncompromisingly. More critical in the course of history than governments, emperors and kings is the ministry of God’s people. How much more must we take it to heart as His ministers. We are called to prepare our people. The time is late. If there was ever a time to fulfill your calling, it’s now. It’s time to put away anything that would hinder you in any way from fulfilling your calling—any sin, any fear, any distraction, any entanglement. It’s time to take up the mantle of greatness and to become all that God is calling you to become. It’s time to take your stand. Time to rise. Time to shine. For God has appointed you for such a time as this.


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NELSON SEARCY is the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church. Started in 2002 in New York City, this groundbreaking church sees the majority of its growth coming from new believers and currently meets in Manhattan, Queens, San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He is the author of over seventy-five church-growth resources and ten books, including the brand-new books Connect: How to Double Your Number of Volunteers and The Greatness Principle: Finding Significance and Joy by Serving Others. Nelson is also an experienced church planter, coach and church-growth strategist. Before founding The Journey, he served as Director of Purpose Driven Community at Saddleback Church. He is also the founder of ChurchLeaderInsights.com, the Church Leader Training Ministry of Nelson Searcy and The Journey Church. The softcover book, which retails at $19, is our gift to you, but you will need to pay the shipping and handling fee to receive it.

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» continued from page 26 leaving our churches because they have not seen us living out the gospel. We haven’t told them the truth, and we haven’t ministered to them in the power of the Spirit. But where the gospel is going forth with power and conviction, young people are flocking to hear the Word and be changed. The more we water down the message, the fewer disciples we will produce and the less God will back us. During the days of the Brownsville Revival, I wrote a little poem called “Pablum From the Pit.” It seems apropos to share it again now:

Cootchie, cootchie, cootchie-coo, God loves me and God loves you! Smile sinner, don’t be sad; God’s not angry; He’s not mad. Even when you leave the path, There’s no hell and there’s no wrath. So don’t you fear, just do your best. Judgment Day won’t be a test. God sees your heart and that’s enough. The Judgment Seat won’t be that tough. For you can’t sin away His grace Or take that smile from His face. ’Cause God is love and love is good: He’ll treat you like you think He should! Just trust me, sinner, to the end. My name is Satan, I’m your friend. May God awaken His church again today beginning with us, His leaders. And may we take up the cross and preach the cross regardless of cost or consequences. In more ways than we realize, the fate of the nation is in our hands. And if a compromised, watered-down message could bring death and destruction, an uncompromising, Spirit-empowered, compassion-birthed message could bring life and transformation. Now is the time. D r . M i c h a e l L. B rown is president of FIRE School of Ministry and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Line of Fire. His classic book on holiness, Go and Sin No More, has just been reprinted. 64 MinistryToday March // April 2013


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p a s t o r ’ s

h e a r t

by Dr. Mark Rutl and

Making a Personal Turnaround Cultivating a rich inner life is a non-negotiable for all leaders

A

decade ago I went through the darkest time of my adult life that threatened my marriage and my leadership. It was a classic case of leader burnout. For me, it was an eclipse of the sun. The problem was that I lost touch with my own core connection on the inside. My deep love for my God and my wife became compromised. I became an angry, dark soul at home. I made bad choices and barely held serious depression at bay. In public, I hid my loneliness and torment. At home I didn’t. I wasn’t the first leader to experience the toxic syndrome of outward success and inner failure. Tragically, I won’t be the last. What I now know is that you can turn it around—by the grace of God. And with a loving wife, I got through it. A wise counselor helped. A couple of true friends were indispensable. There were many days when bailing out was a temptation. It certainly looked easier than hacking on through a dark jungle of depression. But hack we did. Now that I’m through it and on the other side, I am grateful for what I learned. Here’s the short list of those lessons: Success can be toxic. You need to know that. Not just hear it or read it—know it. Someone once said the only thing worse than failure is success. The thinner you are stretched on the surface, the more toxic your inner life becomes. Don’t be deceived about this. Go back on the inside. Are you spending most of your leadership energy on the outside? Then go back on the inside. Remember those things that are real. Hold to them. Do them again. Carve out time for your soul, your true self and your most precious relationships. Before a marriage can be turned around, reality must be faced. How unhappy is your spouse, really? How wretched are you to live with, really? How long has it been since you sought

your self, your soul or your God, really? Turnaround will require emotional investment and time. Kindness. Humility. Servanthood. They are expensive and require deep investment. The main thing it will cost you is time. That precious and limited commodity, which too many leaders spend in all of life’s elsewheres, must be reallocated. There is no quick way to turn a home’s culture from toxicity to wholeness. Time is medicine, and it works—but often at what feels like an excruciatingly slow pace. Being self-aware and vigilant to monitor your inner self is non-negotiable. You have to develop something substantial and meaningful— a rich inner life that keeps you in balance. Unshakable values keep you even-keeled. Protect yourself and your family to preserve what makes you human and whole. Stay free in God’s hand. This is the most important truth I have learned about staying healthy as a leader. There was only one thing that kept me sane during those hard years I spent as pastor of Calvary Assembly. Every Sunday morning, as I walked to the pulpit I prayed, “Lord, I didn’t ask for this position, and I don’t have to have it. If today is the day to leave it, I’m good with that.” That realization kept me loose. It kept me from acting out of fear. It made it possible for me to make hard decisions. When I made mistakes, that liberty made it possible for me to keep going. Of course I preferred success to failure, but I did not live in fear of failure. If your sense of self or identify is completely tied up in your role as leader of your organization, you won’t be able to keep a loose hold on your position. I know this firsthand. What we grasp most tightly becomes deformed. Your church or organization doesn’t define you. If you can keep that in mind, you can bring your unique vision to bear on the church you are called upon to lead.

MinistryResource Drawing from his remarkable experience turning around two universities and a megachurch, in ReLaunch Dr. Mark Rutland guides leaders through the hard, dangerous work of turning both vocational and personal failure into success. 66 MinistryToday March // April 2013

President of Oral Roberts University, D r . M a r k R u t l a n d recently released his 14th book, ReLaunch: How To Stage An Organizational Comeback. Copyright ©2013 Mark Rutland. ReLaunch published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce in any way, including use in emails or on websites. All rights reserved.

Mike Moore

“In public, I hid my loneliness and torment. At home I didn’t.”


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Ministry Today March/April 2013  

Serving rising leaders within the church by empowering them with effective tools for Spirit-led ministry. Guest Editor: Jonathan Cahn, Messi...

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