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About this series
The High Impact Pastor
Building God's Church Jesus' Way
As our world continues to thaw from the pandemic, now more than ever, the Church has to act like the Church. And that can only happen with healthy, God-focused pastors leading well. Through this short series - "The High Impact Pastor: Building God's Church Jesus' Way" - Chip offers hope to church leaders who are discouraged and struggling spiritually, mentally… and even financially. Stay with us as we learn what Jesus is saying to pastors in these challenging times… and how everyday people – like you and me – can learn to support ‘em!More from this series
I was in the East Coast of America recently and a young man that I have had the privilege of mentoring for twelve, fourteen years. He’s in his mid-forties, he’s a church planter, and he’s a real pioneer and entrepreneur. And so, he has been involved in a church planting network in some of the hardest places to plant a church.
And we sat over breakfast as I was in his town and he looked as sad, as worn out, he told me, “It’s the worst, the hardest year I can ever remember.
He said, “The hardest by far is,” he says, “I have four fellow pastors that got so discouraged, I mean, four that I knew and knew well, that committed suicide.” And then he said, “I can name ten others who quit the ministry.”
So, what I want you to know is it is very, very difficult. But I also want you to remember that what we are experiencing is so much like the first century. Can you imagine being a pastor in the Roman Empire? Can you imagine the Jews thinking you were off your rocker? The early Church and all the disciples were, many of them, disowned and persecuted.
And so, I want to pull back the lens and I want to remind you and me of some things that we really believe. And then in this session, I want to share Jesus’ secret to success and impact. I want to share what He actually did, not what He said, what He actually did.
And I’m going to propose that if we will do what Jesus did, we will begin to see the kind of fruit that Jesus had.
Let me just ask you to lean back and do you agree with these statements? Because I do with all my heart.
Statement number one: God’s purposes cannot be thwarted. Right? Job 42:2. God’s purposes, what He is going to do, no pandemic, no evil, no government, no rule, no law can thwart that.
Number two: It is God’s will for the gospel to go to everyone in the world. We know that for sure. It’s Matthew 28. He commanded.
Number three: It is God’s will for every child of God to grow and become spiritually mature. Right? Romans 8:29.
God does work all things together for good. Not that it always comes out good in our present day, but - why? For those who are called and those who are loved to conform us to the image of Christ.
Number four: The greatest apologetic in the world is spiritually mature Christians who love each other deeply. Remember the very last night, Jesus said to His disciples, He had washed their feet, and He says, “A new commandment I give unto you: Love one another in the same way that I have loved you. By this the world will know that you are My disciples.”
Number five: God’s primary agent of change in the world is the Church, the body of Christ. It’s us. He said we are the light of the world. We are the salt.
And then finally, I think you know this and I know this, the key to every church is the pastor. It’s a lot of responsibility, it’s a big stewardship.
But if we would think together, have you ever gone to a great church? I mean, where there’s great fruit, the Holy Spirit is working, the Word of God is preached, the people are mobilized and met a bad pastor? A weak pastor? A lazy pastor? Every great church that I have ever been to I find a man or a woman who walks deeply with God and the Spirit of God is working through them.
And here’s my, here’s my premise. Here’s what I’d like you to consider with me. What if the reason so many of those in our church, in all that we have been through, the reason that they fainted, the reason that they were weak is that we actually grew a church and grew a ministry, but we really didn’t make as many fruitful, Romans 12 Christians who were surrendered to God and separate from the world’s values that knew who they were in Christ, who were actively serving in love, and no matter what came at them they supernaturally responded to evil with good.
Now, what I know is many of you have people in your church that are those kind of Christians and they are making a difference.
That’s what we long for. But why? Why aren’t there more Christians like that?
I’m going to suggest that the reason that is is the very reason that Jesus said to the Christian leaders, the spiritual leaders, the Jewish leaders, people who were listening to Him from all kind of backgrounds, and He said, “They see but they don’t perceive. They hear, but they don’t understand.”
And He says, “What I would really want to do, I want them to see and perceive and to hear and really understand so that I could heal them,” because God’s purposes, His goodness, His love, He doesn’t want any to perish but all come to a knowledge of the truth.
And I have asked myself in my own life, Why? What’s missing? Of course we have seen some good things here and there. But what is really missing?
And I have something for you to consider. What if Jesus not only taught and revealed the secrets of the kingdom, right? How it works, how it’s planted, how it grows, what promotes it, how you measure it. What if He not only taught us the secrets of the kingdom, but He actually modeled for us what we are to do? In other words, for much of my life as a pastor, I did what Jesus said. But did I actually do what Jesus did?
You’re scratching your head right now. Here’s what I mean. I want to walk you through the preparation. Because when He sowed the seed of God’s Word, there was power, there was moral authority. When He spoke, no one spoke like this man who has authority. And when He spoke the Word of God, the Word of God went out with power. And in those hearts that were open, like the disciples, it began to grow and then it multiplied.
And so, I want you to walk with me through this lens of a Romans 12 Christian and I want to show you that the apostle Paul didn’t just pull these thoughts out of the air.
Go back to Luke where the baptism occurs. Are you ready? Go back in your Bibles, Luke chapter 3. Jesus, for thirty years, He’s a carpenter. And He has learned to live in a culture and He works hard and He knows what life is like.
And the Father speaks to His Spirit and says, “It’s time to start Your ministry. The first thing you are to do, John the Baptist has blazed the trail. He has worked up the soil, he has let people know that injustice is wrong and you need to repent and there’s a great need. And so, I want You to go and I want you to let John baptize you.”
You know, so often we think, Oh, yes, Jesus went and He obeyed and He [was] baptized. Well, why was John baptizing? He was baptizing for the remission, for the repentance of sins. People acknowledging publicly, “I have lied, I have cheated, I have committed affairs, I have charged too much money, I was a soldier - I have been abusive.” Right?
That was the message.
So, I want you to understand that when Jesus was being baptized, I think it was, next to the cross, the most important and biggest moment of surrender to the Father’s will.
I know in my own life when people think I have done something and I really haven’t done it, few things bother me as much. They think I lied or they think I did this or they think I misused this, right? We have all been accused of things. Jesus is going to identify with all of us. And people on the outside, what did they think? He must be just like us; He’s coming to repent. But it is in that moment of surrender, then what happens? He hears the Father’s voice, “You are My deeply loved Son. In You I am well pleased.” And then He got the affirmation, the visible affirmation of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.
And what I want you to get is that when Jesus said, “You need to do this, you need to do that,” He also said, “Follow Me and I’ll make you a fisher of men.” Don’t follow just what I say; follow Me. And His baptism was as the leader who will launch God’s kingdom on earth. He surrendered His reputation, His identity, and then He began to minister not for God’s favor, but from God’s favor.
What is the second thing that He did? And then He was led in the Holy Spirit after His baptism and He goes into the desert and He does battle with the enemy. And Satan comes and the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life. The three temptations. And how does He overcome it? He doesn’t overcome it by saying, “I’m God! You can’t do that!” He’s fully man and so, in dependence on the Father He reaches back into the book of Deuteronomy and says, “It is written, it is written, it is written.”
See, the secret of Jesus’ ministry was in His full humanity He wanted to please the Father in dependency, but He did it in the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s what He’s modeling. So, He surrenders and then second, what does He do? He is doing battle to be separate from the world’s values. Satan offered Him the world. And he offered Him a shortcut. Well, then what did He do?
Uh, you can pick it up in Luke chapter 4. Right after the temptations, Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, news about Him spread throughout the surrounding region, and He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth where He had been brought up.
And as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read and the scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to Him and He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it said, “‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ And then He rolled the scroll up and He gave it back to the attendant and He sat down. And the eyes of all the people in the synagogue were intently directed on Him and He began to say, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
Now, are you watching the path? Jesus is modeling for us, separate from the world’s values. Now He goes to His hometown, and shortly after this, what happens? His family rejects Him, His hometown rejects Him, and where does He get his assessment? “Who am I?” What is His sober assessment?
He looks into the Word of God and He takes the passage that says, “This is the Messiah, this is His role,” and it is the Word of God and Him saying to those people, “This is who I am.”
And that’s the pattern God has for us. Knowing our role, knowing our calling.
And then it’s interesting, He is surrendered, He has done battle, He is separate from the world’s values, He has a sober self-assessment, He has experienced significant rejection, and sometimes I think we over-spiritualize.
The disciples didn’t see Him, drop everything, and then go off with Him immediately. As you read all four of the gospels, you find the first six months Jesus begins to teach and He goes to a wedding and then there’s the first miracle and He hangs out with Peter and Andrew and Nathaniel, they come together and here we are.
They are just, they are friends and they are learning and they are walking and they are getting to know Him and getting to trust Him. And then they hear Him teach and then they see a miracle and they are hanging out, but He has not called them to full-time ministry. They are kind of part-time volunteers who really want to get to know Him.
And so, what do you do when you have friends? When you have a need with a friend and He can do miracles, you say, “Jesus, my mother-in-law, she is very sick. Do You think You could come over?” And so, here we have the text with His friends. I don’t mean to be unspiritual, but these are His buddies. These are His brothers. He does life in
community and He heals her.
And then word spreads and, I mean, at that house, people came from everywhere. And you get the picture of it being late into the evening.
And the text says, “Every single one was healed. And He cast out many demons and He wouldn’t let the demons say who He was, because they knew, ‘You are the holy One of God.’” And so, He is serving in love.
And then it’s very, very interesting. He gets up a great while before dawn, Mark says, and He went to a lonely place. And there He prayed. And what He does, He’s praying to remember, Why did I come? He doesn’t let success deter Him from His direction.
And so, the crowds came and said, “There were hundreds last night, and there are thousands later, I mean, You are big stuff.” And He says, “No, I must preach - because that’s why I came - to all the other villages.” Are you seeing the pattern?
And then when He called the disciples and there’s – what? A demon possessed man. And what does He do? He speaks to the demon and He overcomes the evil with good.
I want you to see something. If you were one of those disciples, you would be asking yourself, despite what you have seen so far, it sure seems like everything is rooted in His Word. He speaks the Word. When He speaks, things change.
And then, after they have had this teaching time, they have had a big lecture: the seed, the sower. They have had parables about how the kingdom works and what their role is going to be.
I believe the biggest question in their mind is, “Can we trust His Word? They were like us! “I believe He’s the Messiah, but sometimes I don’t.” “And if I’m going to leave my family, I’m going to leave my job, He’s asking for total commitment if I’m really going to surrender.” Right?
And then what does He do? He does what God the Father directs Him to do to help them have confidence in who He is. And so, He says to them, “Let’s go to the other side.” And a great storm happens and do you remember how He calms the storm? He speaks and the wind and the waves are calmed. And what is their question? “Who is this?” They are coming to an awareness. “Who is this that speaks to nature, to chaos, and calms it?”
And do you remember? So, what’s the next thing He does? And then He ends up on the shore and there’s the demoniac and there’s a legion of demons. And as He speaks, the demon says, “Don’t torment me!” And He sends the demons into the pig and to verify that out of His Word, those demons obey Him. He has authority over nature, He has authority over all demonic powers.
And then they head back over and Jairus’ daughter, remember the synagogue ruler? “My daughter is dying; please come.” But on the way, the woman touches Him and power comes out of Him. And as it does, He stops. And do you remember what He says to her? “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” If you study these passages, each one after the parable of the seeds and the sowers, these four episodes. And then He raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead. And do you remember how He does it? He doesn’t touch her. He says, “I say to you, little girl, arise.”
The secret to Jesus’ impact was that He modeled for the disciples what He wanted them to become. Now, I want you to ponder, have you come before God and said, “I am all in. I surrender all that I am, all that I have. I am willing to do whatever, especially during this time of chaos in world history. You need all of me.” And have you done battle? Have you taken some time to fast and to pray and to get alone and ask yourself where and how has the world crept into your life? Where are you tempted in the areas of the flesh, the areas of the eyes, or the pride of life? And allow God to do a deep inventory in you. And then ask yourself, do you know what your gifts are? Do you know what your role is?
We get pictures of our heroes and we want to be like them instead of a sober self-assessment, to be able to look into the mirror of God’s Word and say, Lord, I believe that my value isn’t what I do. Lord, I believe that I am wanted and loved and redeemed. I believe that You have gifted me, I believe I am unique, I believe You have a purpose for me. I want to know what that is.
And then serving in love. “We need one another. We have to support one another.” Look at what is happening in the world and all this chaos. Now, light is being called darkness and what is right is being called wrong. Our world is changing. I don’t know when the Lord is returning but it certainly looks like we are moving faster and faster in that direction. It’s time to come together.
And then to be able to overcome evil with good. You need to be what you want those in your church to become.
You see, at the end of the day, Jesus said best, Luke 6:40, “A student when he is fully trained will be just like his teacher.” And if you go on after those miraculous times, what happens to the disciples? They have their moments of surrender. Then He sends them out two-by-two. And then He allows them to get in situations where they learn to cast out demons and they heal the way He heals and they communicate the way He does. But He is with them in their struggles and their doubts.
Something else I want to say is that there’s a pattern of Jesus’ life over and over and over. The different gospels play it out in different ways. Matthew constantly is bringing about the fulfillment of prophecy because he is writing to Jews. Mark goes very, very fast and talks about Jesus as a man of action.
But Luke is written to the Greeks. He is writing to those people that don’t have a lot of Jewish background and he really wants to show them the humanity of Jesus, in dependence on the Holy Spirit to please the Father. And you will see a pattern in His life, and look at every time where it says, “Jesus prayed,” “Jesus went to a lonely place,” “Jesus spent time,” “Jesus shared His heart.” Here’s what I want you to get is a pattern that changed the course, at least of my ministry as a pastor.
I was in a new church that I told you about that was deeply, deeply broken. I tried to get them to get into a group, trying to get them in some sort of pattern or program that the church had to disciple them, it was, it was like herding cats. No matter what I did, I couldn’t do it.
And as I began to study the life of Jesus, I watched a pattern emerge and I watched that Jesus spent time before God. He had very private time with God and that has been something that I have practiced all my years as a pastor. First and foremost, time alone with God.
And the second thing I noticed about Jesus, even before He called the disciples, very early on, He becomes friends. He does life in community with Andrew and Nathaniel and Peter and I think they have fun together and they share together and they have common hearts.
And then the third thing is He is on mission. And the Greek word BIO means “life”. And I was struggling in this church for the first couple years and I realized I don’t think I can get these busy people to do my program that I think will help them become Romans 12 Christians. There’s a clear picture, right? Romans 12 is a picture of a mature disciple.
But what is the pathway in everyday life? And so, the Lord began to speak to me and it’s BIO! It’s, “I came that they might have life and they might have it abundantly.”
And so, I remember I was taking a walk one day and I thought, You know what I really want is for everyone in the church to develop the rhythm in their life where they come before God specifically daily and then practice His presence. And come before God in worship. And I want them, what if they did life in community? And by that I mean with other people? Close relationships. Even if it wasn’t in the church. And then if they could discover their gift, if they were on mission, 24/7.
And so, BIO became a bit of a pathway. And so, I said to these leaders and busy people flying all over the world, I said, “If you’re going to become a Romans 12 Christian, you have to practice, you need to come – “B” – before God daily. You need to do – “I” – weekly. In community. Life with others from the heart. And – “O” – on mission 24/7.
And what I realized is the goal is to make them self-feeders, not just be in the programs of our church. I said, “If you can have a small group meeting and do community with business leaders even with members of another church, I don’t care where and how you do it. But what I want you to do is meet with God daily and hear His voice. I want you to learn to obey Him and have friends that will support you. And then I want you to discover who He made you to be and be on mission.”
And here’s what I will tell you, God did something great. It mobilized people, they started doing life in community, they started meeting with God. And, yes, we had resources and we had programs, and we had different ways. But my goal changed from: How do I get them to come to church, how do I get them to do our programs? To: How do I empower them to do what Jesus did? Come, first, before the Father and say, “I want to please You and spend time in His Word and hear His voice.” And then as they get direction say, “I can’t do this on my own,” and join with other believers.
And then to discover how God made them and begin to be on mission, to be a servant at home, to be a servant as an employer, an employee. To be a servant where they go and how they walk and how they drive and how they speak. And little by little by little by little, now we have a picture of fruitfulness, a Romans 12 Christian.
The secret to Jesus’ impact, and remember that’s what I titled this? The secret to His impact is that His life spoke louder than any of His Words. More is caught than taught. They caught His passion. When they saw His life they said, “Will you teach us to pray the way You pray?” They saw His heart and compassion. They saw the way He lived and what He felt. They heard His prayers. When you get close to the people in your church, that mustard seed of those few people, that you say to them, “Let’s become Romans 12 Christians. Go on a journey with me.”
What I want you to know that God is going to do some deep stuff in you and some of it is not going to be easy. But if you’ll go there, if you’ll walk the path that Jesus walked, and if you will do what Jesus did in the power of the Holy Spirit, to please your heavenly Father, very imperfectly, like all of us, you will begin to produce the fruit that Jesus produced.
When that changed in my ministry, I saw God do things here and around the world that I never imagined, because it wasn’t about getting them to church, it wasn’t about how many showed up, it wasn’t about how many buildings we had or how much money came in. It was about measuring the ministry by the disciples that are made. I have done it very, very imperfectly. God is still working very, very much in me. But I will tell you this, when you walk with the Lord Jesus that way, the power of the Holy Spirit, living out the Word of God, He will do things in you and through you exceedingly beyond what you could ever ask or think.
And so, Father, that’s our prayer. We don’t want to just follow your teaching, Lord Jesus, we want to walk in your steps.
We want to have a sober, accurate view of ourselves. Lord, we want to be connected deeply in relationships that are peer relationships that give us life and we give life. And, Lord, we want to have a band of brothers or a band of sisters that, when we are attacked and when there is injustice and when it’s challenging, that, Lord, we could have the strength to overcome evil with good by Your grace and by Your power. Would You help us to learn to come before You daily, to do life in community weekly, and to be on mission 24/7, every day of the year for Your glory, amen.