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Lessons From John the Baptist

One of the greatest things that I have been enjoying in our new church plant is teaching through the Word of God. Simply allowing the Spirit of God to take the Word of God to work in the people of God. We are currently in the Gospel of John and we are learning many valuable truths from it. Although I have personally been in full-time ministry for almost fifteen years and learned many things throughout those years, the things that I am learning as a church planter are completely different. Maybe “different” isn’t the correct word, for many of these truths are not new. Maybe it would be better to say that God is working deeper within my heart. Can you relate? I thought I would share with you some important truths that I have been learning from John the Baptist, that we as church planters need to hear once again. Now I would not limit these truths to church planters only, but to anyone involved in ministry.

1) KNOW WHO YOU ARE NOT

In John chapter one, the crowd around John the Baptist was becoming greater and greater. The Pharisees sent some representatives to John and began to ask him a few questions. “Who are you? Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet?” (John 1:19-21) As we read over John’s response, it is very clear that John knew who he was not. John knew that he was not the Christ. Although John was sent in the “power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17), he knew he was not Elijah. Although John was truly the last of the OT prophets, he knew that he was not the Prophet that Moses had prophesied about (Deut. 18:15).

As a church planter I believe it is very important that you know who you are not. No doubt you have at least one person that you look up to and a few that you are influenced by, but if you were to take a brief examination in front of the mirror, you are not them. No matter how great they might be, God has not called you to be them. He has called you to be you.

No doubt you have at least one person that you look up to and a few that you are influenced by, but if you were to take a brief examination in front of the mirror, you are not them. No matter how great they might be, God has not called you to be them. He has called you to be you.

2) KNOW WHO YOU ARE

Within the same context, John the Baptist is asked a question that is a very soul-searching question. “Who are you… What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:22) I believe that one of the most important truths that a church planter needs to know is who God has called him to be. John’s response to this question was, “I am ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness…’” John knew who he was. Later on in John chapter 3, when the crowds were leaving John and beginning to follow after Jesus, he once again reminded his disciples, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but ‘I have been sent before Him.’” (John 3:27-28) Again, John knew who he was. My fellow church planter, may we stop trying to be who we are not and simply be who we are called to be.

My fellow church planter, may we stop trying to be who we are not and simply be who we are called to be.

3) FULFILL YOUR CALLING

Since John knew who he was not and who he was, this freed him to simply do what he was called to do. We know that John was called to ‘make straight the way of the LORD’ (John 1:23) and that was exactly what he did. When the crowds were gathering to him, he knew who he was -he was not the Christ. When the crowds were forsaking him and beginning to follow Jesus, he knew who he was – he was not the Christ, but he was sent before Him. I believe that this truth can be very freeing. Think about it. When the crowds began to forsake John and follow after Jesus, how easily bitterness, jealousy, pride, etc. could have taken over John’s heart. Yet, when we read over John’s life, we see a man that was content with what he was called to do. Instead of comparing or being jealous, we find a man who rejoiced in what he was called to do and rejoiced in what God was calling others to do. John’s true heart came out when he declared,‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ (John 3:30)

My dear brothers, God has called you. He is not looking for someone else to be in your city and in your location. He is simply calling you to be faithful to what He has given you to do. If you find yourself prone to look over ‘there’ and see how God is working through ‘them,’ may God give you a heart like John the Baptist – rejoice at what God is doing through them. On the other hand, consider the following question, “What am I doing with what God has given me?” Seek to be who you are and to be faithful with what He has given you to do.

My dear brothers, God has called you. He is not looking for someone else to be in your city and in your location. He is simply calling you to be faithful to what He has given you to do.

Joey Roper is the lead and planting pastor of CityLight Hamburg, which you can also follow on Twitter at @CityLightHH.

ReEngage Conference Video Content

The video content from our recent ReEngage Church Planting Conference in Costa Mesa is now available! We’ll be releasing a few videos each day until they’re all available.

As you’ll see, the videos contain powerful and informative information for pastor, church planters, mentors, and so much more. We would encourage you to take some time to watch the videos as they become available, and make sure to pass them on to people in your social circles.

The video content can be accessed at reengage.ccpnetwork.org.

We hope you’re blessed by these videos and that you launch out in faith to what God is calling you to!

Just One of the Pastors

Throughout the Bible, God’s people are called His sheep (John 10, Psalm 23).

You’re a sheep. I’m a sheep. Everywhere a… anyway…

Not A Compliment

If you’ve hung out with sheep or know much about about them, you know that’s not exactly a compliment. Sheep are stupid, smelly, and self-destructive. They will eat all the grass in one place, then just keep eating the dirt until they’re led somewhere else. They will blindly follow other sheep off of a cliff or right into the line of danger. They can’t defend themselves, and without a shepherd, they’re sitting targets.

The Shepherd and His Under-Shepherds

Jesus is called The Good Shepherd (John 10:11) and The Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). Beneath Him (far beneath Him) in the Church structure are His under-shepherds, the local pastors within the Church. Every pastors is tasked with the job of preaching God’s Word in season and out of season (1 Timothy) and shepherding the hearts of those whom God has entrusted them with.

A Healthy Balance

As a pastor, I don’t take my position lightly. Shepherding people is challenging work. However, I try to make sure that I don’t take my position or calling too seriously either. It’s easy to go to either extreme: not care and not take it very seriously or the opposite extreme, go overboard and become overbearing. I try hard to stay somewhere in the middle.

At Awaken, I’m the Senior Pastor. That’s not because I’m better than anyone, it’s just because I got there first! Like the Army, a sports team, or a healthy marriage, someone has to lead. A leadership position isn’t about superiority; it’s about structure.

Although I’m the Senior Pastor, I’m also just one of the pastors. I’m surrounded by a God-given groups of pastors and ministry leaders that together run and build the ministry of Awaken Church.

Here’s the point: when I choose not to make a big deal out of myself, my position, or my leadership, it’s so relieving!

When I rest in the fact that JESUS is the Chief Shepherd (a.k.a. real Senior Pastor) of Awaken Church, it takes the weight of building the church off of my shoulders. Since the church is Jesus’ church…

The bills belong to Him.

The people belong to Him.

The problems belong to Him.

The victory belongs to Him.

It’s all His, and that sure is a relief!

PASTORS: Don’t take yourself too seriously. “Don’t lord [your position/title/leadership] over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.” (1 Peter 5:4 NLT)

When things are rough, trust Jesus with His Church. When things are great, give the credit where it’s due: it’s HIS Church!

CHRISTIANS: Follow your pastor as they follow Jesus, but remember: you’re ultimately following Jesus, not your pastor. Pastors will let you down, so keep your eyes on Jesus.

Thank God For Your Job

Pastor Nathan Wise planted Remedy Church in Missoula, MT in 2009. In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, here’s his take on some things that bi-vocational pastors should remember about their jobs…

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October is Pastor Appreciation Month and as I sat in an unnamed coffee shop (where mermaids swim freely), I began thinking of the many ways I was thankful for my Senior Pastor….. Jesus Christ.  The first thing that came to mind was how thankful I was for the job He has provided for me. You see, this May will be my 10th anniversary of employment with Costco Wholesale. And I can’t even begin to count the many reasons I’m thankful for this job. One stands out to me though. The fact that God has used this job to move me around the states in order to accomplish His will in my life. My job is what God used to get me to move to Albuquerque, New Mexico where I attended Pastoral ministry school. My job is what God used to close doors and open them to where He wanted me to plant Remedy Church. And my job is what is enabling me to pastor now. And by His grace I have seen Him do awesome things at Costco throughout the seven years I have been with the company. From people getting saved to rededicating their lives to serve Him, I have watched God’s hand do awesome things.

I think often we Christians forget to see our workplaces as useful ministry spots. We have the tendency to compartmentalize our relationship with Jesus. We are useful for the Lord outside of our jobs but the 9 to 5 is not thought of as a place for God to speak and use us. Let me throw out an example from the Old Testament… Nehemiah was a dude who punched the clock. His job was to make sure the president’s beverages were icy cold and free from artificial junk. Ok, he was the King’s Cup Bearer. That was his JOB. The awesome thing is that God used that job to provide a way for Nehemiah to fulfill His will to revive a spiritually dead nation, to bring thousands upon thousands to a place in their lives where they loved, served, worshiped and adored God above all else!

God wants to do awesome things in and through your life, but don’t miss HOW He wants to do it. It may just be that He is using your job to “get the job done”… Pun intended. So be on the lookout for the evidences of God’s grace in your life at the workplace. Be intentional in discovering how God wants you to be a part of a spiritual revival at your job. Look back and see how God has used the job HE has provided for you to bring glory to His name and then seek to make much of Jesus every day you punch the clock. And by God’s grace He will take you places that will fulfill His incredible purpose in your life. And He will use your job to do it.

Be intentional in discovering how God wants you to be a part of a spiritual revival at your job.