04 Jun 2017
Kingdom Leadership (Sunday Workshop) Pastor Randy Pope 28 May 2017 We had a special afternoon workshop session with Pastor Randy last Sunday. These are some significant takeaways: - He shared great stories of faith about his own life and about Perimeter church. - We are encouraged to "attempt something so great for God, that unless God is in it, it is doomed to failure. " - He reminded us to choose health over size, and influence over success. - He encouraged us to embrace the ideal of 3-strand ministries of Head, Heart and Hands. - He ended by painting a picture of an attractive godly man - someone committed to being a sincere worshipper, a faithful disciple-maker and an effective disciple-trainer. We are richly blessed by his teaching! Pastor Jason
I want to make sure that we understand when I talk about leadership, I'm talking about potentially every Christian, every Christian should think of themselves as leaders. Let me put it this way. Think about this, a leader. We lead in our homes, we lead our children, husbands and wives alike lead our children. There's leadership within the family and all kinds of different expressions. We lead people to Christ. We lead people to find help in time of need. I mean, really, we should all be thinking of ourselves as leaders. And we want to be thinking about ourselves as leaders in God's kingdom, we can lead on this earth in just natural ways. But we need to be thinking, how would God have us lead in the life that he's called us to live as Christians, and that brings his kingdom to bear.
His kingdom represents the realm and the reign over that realm of the King over His subjects, His people, that's kingdom. And so here we are, as part of the kingdom that comes on this earth, we pray in the Lord's Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done”. We're asking for his rule, for his reign, for it to grow extensively and intensively. So, Lord, how would you use me as a kingdom leader, to see the kingdom come in both ways. And that's what I'd like to address is what are some of the characteristics of highly effective kingdom leaders?
Now, throughout God's Word, we find that God's kingdom comes through the leadership of Kingdom leaders, it happens, it's just reality. You can trace church history, from the earliest days through modern history, you will constantly see God is using Kingdom leaders to bring that kingdom to bear upon this earth. One person has said it this way, “What seems impossible is achieved through good leadership”. Leadership is so very, very important. And that being the case, I want to address the question, well, what is the characteristics of a highly effective kingdom leader? And saying that I'm not going to address the spiritual qualifications in terms of character. We could go on and on about that, but I'm going to assume we're kind of in the same place. We hear that a lot. But beyond that, in terms of, of particularly some of the commitments that highly effective kingdom leaders make, what are some of those commitments. So I have a list of 12 that I, I believe are just critically important commitments of highly effective kingdom leaders. I'm going to read them to you, they're going to be on the board right now. And then I'm going to touch on four of these 12. One of them, you've already heard, I did it this morning. So let's put those up if you have them, and I'll just let you see them and then go into four of them and we got them ready yet.
12 commitments in Kingdom Leadership
Number One, highly effective Kingdom leaders dream Kingdom dreams. I'm going to address that one. And we'll start with that one in just a minute. Number two, highly effective Kingdom leaders embrace the most mature Kingdom model. Unless we have time left over, we want to come back to that, probably skip that. Number three, highly effective Kingdom leaders maintain a threefold focus while using the life-on-life model. And that's one of the models, life-on-life that you're using actually in your church. And those commitments are very simple, and we won’t walk through those. Number four, I am going to address, highly effective Kingdom leaders model and lead others on a journey of faith. I want to talk about that. Five, highly effective Kingdom leaders create and follow a strategic plan for their life family and ministry. I may address that if we have a little time that might be something you'll be very interested in. We'll see if we have time for that. Number six, highly effective Kingdom leaders skillfully use culturally relevant ministry tools. If you're with me on the training that I'm giving yesterday and tomorrow, been talking about these types of ministry tools. Number seven, highly effective Kingdom leaders know the value of simplicity, repetition, modeling, and multiplication. Number eight, highly effective Kingdom leaders choose health over size and influence over success. I'm going to address that one for you. Highly effective Kingdom leaders embrace the ideal of three-strand ministries, I am going to address that one, those will be the four. Then, number ten, highly effective Kingdom leaders emphasize the marriage of grace and duty. Eleven, highly effective Kingdom leaders fully embraced the authentic gospel. And then twelve, highly effective Kingdom leaders routinely appropriate God's power. And I hope you would know I've already talked about that one. If not, you're asleep all morning when you were here. All right. So you're good to hit those four?
I want to begin with this idea of highly effective Kingdom leaders dream Kingdom dreams. Dream. What does it mean for a Christian to dream? I actually am convinced that it's kind of a lost art in the Christian church today. Dreaming is I used to describe the seeing what God has in store. Think of it that way. And as I say that there will probably be a lot of us that go, what are you talking about? Seeing what God has in store? If you're familiar with God's word about the leaders of Kingdom, you'll notice over and over that there were amazing insights that leaders would get from God, in very special ways. And now we hear we're in a church age where God is not speaking in the same way. Not in the exact same way we have to agree there's not an audible voice that God is speaking as he would speak to Moses or Joshua. So, there is something different, but do we still have the privilege of being able to dream and I am convinced that is the reality. When we dream, one thing we know listening to God is not an infallible art. In the scriptures, before scripture was closed, there was infallible audible capabilities to be able to know what God was saying. Scripture is inspired of God, we know it's thoroughly accurate, it's without error. All those things which I'll be addressing, by the way, tomorrow, if you're in that, the training, how we know that God's word is inspired, what does it mean that it is without error? We'll be addressing that. But how many Christians would agree 99% of Christians, real Christians, when you say, Does God still speak today? We go, Well, sure. He still speaks to His people. Here's my question. How? And if it's not infallible, which it's not, how do we really know that God has spoken? That's an important thing. So, I like to think of it as thinking long thoughts, going into future and being able to kind of have a sense of what God would be doing and what he'd have us to do in order to see his kingdom come.
I'll tell you a quick story of my father. My father was a very creative man. I really can say he's one of the most creative people I've ever known. He's now deceased. And as far as I know, he's not with the Lord today. But he was a very good father in many respects, and extremely creative. He would see things in the future, it wasn't God speaking, much different than what we'll talk about what it means to dream dreams from the Lord. But he had an ability to have long thoughts. And I remember one day I was a little kid, and I was walking just into the main room, I needed to speak to my father about something, I have no idea what it was. But I walked through the door of the room. And as I walked in, I saw my dad sitting there with a pad in his lap and a pencil in his hand. As I got to the door walking in just moving in pretty fast. I just saw him raise up his hand and do like this. And I stopped. “Yeah”. He said, “Randy, can I ask you a question? Do you need me right now?” I said, “Yeah, I need to ask you something.” “Let me ask you is it is an emergency? Is it something very, very critical?” I said, “No, sir.” He said, “Could you wait and come back in about an hour?” I went,” Well, yeah, I can come back in an hour.” And then I said, as I was about to leave, I said, “Wow, what are you doing?” And his answer to me was, “I'm thinking.” To run a thought, thinking, I haven't thought my entire life. What do you do when you sit around thinking, good gracious? Now, I think I know.
You see, when I was trying to discover what God would have me to invest my life in regard to the kingdom. Was I going to be a business leader? And try to be a Kingdom Builder in business? Equally valid to being a kingdom leader in the church? Or in maybe a parachurch? Was I to do whatever I would do what I do overseas for the sake of the kingdom? Would I do it in the States? If I did do it in the States or beyond, would I be with the church or the parachurch if I went to a ministry form of professional occupational ministry.
And so, when I began to ask all those questions, I became very confused. I just didn't know. And so, one day, I was leaving a seminary class. Now seminary is where you go to graduate school for theology, and I'm in my class. And as I'm walking out of the class, somebody in the room, who was still seated there, hollered out my name. And I turned around to see two people sitting at a table. We sat behind tables in there in the Graduate School. And one of them said to me, “Randy, do you have time to come sit with us for a minute and talk?” Now, these were not close friends. They were people I knew seminary classes weren't that big. But I said, “Sure”. I didn't have anything pressing. So, I came over and I sat down with them. I said, “What can I do for you?” They said, “We've been talking here for a few minutes about your ministry that you're having on a local college campus. And we've heard wonderful things about it. I know God's using it in a good way. But we were sitting here just discussing you and we were talking about how as much as God may be using you, there's something missing in your life.” Wow, that's pretty direct. And I said, “Alright, I'm open. What is it?” “We don't see you having a commitment to the world.”
Now when he said that, I knew what they were talking about. They were both M K's. You know what I mean? When I say MK, missionary kid, PK, a pastor's kid, this was missionary kid. And they had come from overseas, where they had grown up with their families who were American, they had grown up on the mission field. And they had come over to the states to get their education. And were about to go back to where their family was ministering to carry on the ministries, but they were recruiting people like me, they wanted me to go with them, and I could smell it a mile away. And I said, “Oh, you're talking about being a missionary, aren't you?” They say, “Yep, that's what we're talking about.” And I said, “Let you know, no, I don't travel well, I don't really like to go on vacation because you have to travel. So I'm not a candidate for being a missionary.” Well, I happen to also be a math major when I was in college. And so, my mind was trained to think very logically. And so, boy, they hit me where they could really get to me probably without even knowing it.
But one of them said, “Let me ask you a question, Randy. Where should the greatest attention be given? Should it be given to a group with the greater need or to the lesser need?” “Well, obviously to the greater needs where you want to give your attention.” They said, “Number two, Randy, where do you think the greater need is?” This is in the mid 1970s. “Where do you think the greater need is for the gospel today? Do you think it's stateside or do you think it's beyond the shores of our country in other places?” Well, I knew where they were, pushed me right into a corner. And I had to say, “Across the seas.” And then one of them said, “Then how do you know God wouldn't have you to go there?” And I went, “Uh-Oh”, I have no answer. And so, I said, with integrity, I said, “I will promise you this, over the next year and a half, till school is out, I've got to be looking for what God is going to have me to do. I've got to make that decision. And I will look just as much going overseas as I will be staying in the States for the kingdom purpose.”
So I began a journey. And the journey was, Lord, I have to hear from you. What do you want me to do? Well, I had no idea. I kind of felt backed into a corner that I would never get out of, because, okay, it looks like everybody should go overseas. And I knew that wasn't true. But I just didn't know how do you find that out? Well, I started looking at overseas opportunities, local opportunities, and all these different options. And I saw nothing overseas, except one thing.
Do any of you know the name, Dr. John Edmund Haggai Institute? Some of you do. Well, Dr. Haggai made a big impact in my life younger, he came and did a crusade when he was in my hometown. And that's when I first you know, really began to grapple with the gospel. And I think I came to understand the gospel. And so I've kept in contact with him and through the years. And so anyway, he asked me at the same time, if I would be interested in working alongside him kind of his right-hand person, to be a younger generation coming up to do what he was doing. And they were taking their ministry overseas from the US into the other parts of the world. And for the first time, I got enamored with the thought about going overseas. I said, maybe this would be it, I'd be doing the most important thing. And I do it with someone that I would love to work with. And this would be great. And so, man, I thought this is it. And my wife and I began to pray about it. And I can't explain it except you know, in prayer, sometimes you get an unsettled sense. It's not the right thing. And, and I just didn't believe is the right thing. Neither did Carol, my wife. So I went to tell Dr. Haggai, that was not the right thing. And I didn't know why.
And I said, Dr. Haggai, I'm confused. Here, I realized the great needs overseas, you're inviting me to go to overseas, there's every reason that I would say, I would love to do this with you. I'd love to be in the parachurch. I wasn't committed to being in a local church. As I said, there's nothing that stick but for some reason, I just don't believe it's the right thing. And I'm not sure what the right thing is. And let me tell you, he called me off just like that. He said, Randy, you're thinking totally wrongly? Well, I thought he's going to say you should be coming with me. That's what you should have done. He said, “Randy, you're not thinking correctly. It doesn't matter what you do.” I said, “It doesn't matter what I do?” “No. It doesn't matter whether you go into the secular world, as they would call it, or the Christian world they call it, both equally Kingdom work. But doesn't matter whether you're in occupational service to the Lord or not. It doesn't matter whether you're overseas or you're stateside, and doesn't matter whether you're church or parachurch. It doesn't. Those are not big. That's not the issue.” “I'm confused.” I say, “Well, then what's the issue?” He says, “The only thing that really counts is that whatever you do, which doesn't really matter, that whatever you do end up doing, that you attempt something so great for God, that it's doomed to failure, unless God be in it.”
Wow, that one hit me hard. It hit me in a good way, though. I went, wow. I'd love to know if I was doing something that was faith oriented. That would be so cool. Now, I have to tell you, I'm insecure enough that I don't like failure, and particularly public failure. So, I'm not wanting to saying hey, let's go find something I can fail out and really lose out real quickly. I said, if I will find something that's doomed to failure, lest God be in it. I want to know God is in it. And that raised my question, how do I know? How do I hear from God? How do I know what God would say? And so here came my logic. I said, I'm convinced God speaks. I'm not expecting an audible voice. I'm not going to tell you God can't speak audibly to somebody. But I've never experienced it up to that time. I was not dealing with people who had heard, they heard God but not with audible voice, they say anybody could have heard the voice.
So, I said, I'm not expecting that. So how am I going to hear from God? And here's what I concluded if God speaks, and I think he does, that, if I then would just sit alone with a pad in my lap, like my dad did, and a pencil in my hand. And I prayed for a long time, and said, Lord, would you speak to me in my thoughts right now? I want to honor you with what I do. I want to be a highly effective Kingdom leader. And I'd like to do that which would be doomed to failure, lest you be in it. And I want to know, what you would have me to do. So, I'm going to write thoughts as I sit here over time. And I began to do this for dozens, and dozens, and dozens of hours over months, dozens and dozens of hours. And I'd say, Lord, I'm going to write things down, that I think would be glorifying to you. And I'm not going to be so foolish to think anything I write down means you told me, I know, I know that better than that. But I'm going to have to assume that I've invited you the living God, who cares about communicating to his people who want to honor you that there are going to be faults that are going to be mixed in there that aren’t from you. And I'm just going to ask you, if you would do this, would you burn them onto my heart in such a way that I will be convinced, even under conviction that if I don't do those things that I'm being disobedient? Whatsoever is not faith is sin. So, Lord, I'm expecting you to use my conscience to direct me in this whole thing. And so, I'm going to write down things. And, you know, you just drive them in my heart.
Do you know the weird thing happened is I started doing that, I began to have this deep conviction that I was to start a church. You're going to hear a few minutes later, that that's the last thing I wanted to do. And it's the one thing that I'm probably not gifted to do. And I just had a sense, I was supposed to start a church. It was weird. I said, Okay, Lord, if that's what it is that I'm going to do, that's going to be doomed to failure. Because and I will tell you why later, and I'm not just over exaggerating, I was the great candidate to be doomed for failure as a pastor of a church. And so, I said, I've never pastored a church. I've never had much connection with church at that. I was always in parachurch. They said the other day, I said, Okay, Lord, I'll do it. And so that was the plan. I would plant a church. Then I said, Lord, if it's going to be doomed to failure, I understand I'm only 25 years of age, I've never been on the staff of a church. I've never preached a sermon before; I understand that why it would be doomed to failure for those reasons. But what else? What does this church look like? And I need to hear from you. So, I started spending dozens and dozens and dozens of hours, literally, saying, Lord, I got a pad here in my lap, and I got a pencil in my hand. And would you would you just show me what I need to what this church would look like? What would make it so doomed to failure outside me being the pastor.
And you know, as I set these dozens out, I got a picture of a church 20 years down the road. I had it so detailed, it was amazing. It was like, the longer I spent with the Lord doing this, the more clearer it became. I just write it out and say, this is what it would be that and we were going to be doing some things in this church, that was certainly not going to be on Scripture. I mean, breaking scripture in any way. That was one thing, we're going to file a scripture, but it was, it would become the church that would be far different than any church I'd ever seen anywhere. And we did some things that were totally out of the box, in terms of tradition, but in line with scripture in all ways. And I had this picture of a church 20 years down the road, and I'm telling you what if you were to see perimeter church 20 years after it was begun, you'd be amazed how close those two really were.
I think God spoke to me, not infallibly. Well, God speaks infallibly, but to us, we're fallible. So we're not going to hear perfectly what God says. But it gave me a deep conviction to say I should be walking this way. Now, can I give you a little biblical principle about listening to the Lord like this, when you do that which you think to be the will of God. And again, it's not in Scripture to be able to say, ah, no doubt, but when you do that, what you think to be the will of God and you do it with right motives. Hear this, you and I can fail at what we attempt but when we fail, we will be better off because of the failure. Think about the Apostle Paul, do you think the Lord lead him into Jerusalem to be stoned? I think so, Scripture says so. Well, he goes into Jerusalem, things didn't turn out the way he probably would hope he didn't know he's going to be stoned to death. But I tell you, it was the best thing that could have ever happened. Look at the story of Scripture. Right? So we shouldn't assume that, Okay, if I do this, then everything I touch is going to be gold. And it's going to work right? No, no, no, no. It may go exactly opposite. But one thing we can glory in, is this going to come out and work out for the right thing that we should have been doing anyway? Right? Worth doing it.
So, this whole concept of dreaming dreams. I encourage Christians and you as Christian leaders, Kingdom leaders, I encourage you dream dreams, about your own spiritual formation. What's God calling you to do spiritually, to form oil? Spend time listening, thinking, asking God, writing down ideas, and God drive that into my heart. How about your family? Lord, I've got a family here. What makes this family Kingdom effective? What would you have us to do as a family? Lord, in my ministry, maybe through business or through whatever you do, homemaker, whatever, Lord, how would you use me to reach people to Christ? What would you call me to do. If anything doomed to failure, unless you be in it, until you just take that little motto, and you apply, watch what happens. Now you've gone into the realm of dreaming, instead of just planning. You're dreaming what God would plan for you. That makes sense? So that's number one. All right.
4. High Effective Kingdom Leaders Model And Lead Others On A Journey Of Faith
I'm going to move to number four, this goes hand in hand with what we've been talking about. Number four is a highly effective Kingdom leaders’ model and lead others on a journey of faith. Well, I just told you the Haggai story and what happened. When we started our church, in light of what I had learned from there, I told our leadership, you know, we should never make the decision not to do something because we say it's impossible. We should do away with the word impossible. What we ought to ask, say is this, we shouldn't do this because we don't think it's the will of God. That became a far, far better evaluation of why we shouldn't do something. You probably saw that when you made your move to this building, there was like, Whoa, how do we do that? This is going to be bigger than we ever could imagine, what about all the money you know. But there was a sense of, we believe this is the right thing to do. And so let's, let's move along. And let's do that. I learned this idea, again, through this episode I just told you about with Dr. Haggai. And so when it came time for us to move to Atlanta, us was my wife at that time, still is my wife. But at that time, one child, we had a two-month-old child that had just been born, I just finished graduate school. And so we believe here was, I won't go into the story, we had a sense that God was certainly calling us to Atlanta, Georgia. I'd never been to Atlanta. I say I'd never been to Atlanta I have gone through Atlanta, but I didn't know anything about Atlanta. I came from another state. But one of the things that we were very committed to was we were going to be doing something so dramatically unique in church that we couldn't have a core group already waiting on us because they would niche what we were next going to do. So, I thought we ought to be the first people there so there's nobody that can fire us. So, I thought okay, so we got ready prepared to go to Atlanta, Georgia. We were under the authority of an organization or denomination that was relatively new. And they said we will pay you $15,000 a year. And that will be for your salary, your working budget, your benefits, everything 15,000 which is not a lot of money. Well, we said okay, that's fine. We got some money, and we're going to go to Atlanta. So, we went, and we actually got us an apartment, you know, put the down payment down on an apartment, we had that money. And then Carol, my wife had a little job while I was finishing school, and that job ended when she had her baby, and our income flow came to a halt. We had no money. And so, we kept praying and we've watched God provide in so many ways, and we just knew God was going to provide. But he didn’t. And we were ready to move to Atlanta and let me tell you, God had provided no money. When we drove to Atlanta, which was multiple hour drive from where we were finishing school, when I was finishing school, we ended up driving into Atlanta with $10 left in our pockets, a newborn and $10. We move in our little facility, our little apartment, we could not get utilities, we didn't have any money to start up utilities. So we literally in this apartment with no lights, no electricity, we had no air conditioning, it was mid-summer, the temperature was in the 90s to up to 100 degrees. I mean, it was just nothing but us living in a sweat box. So, we move in midweek, only to find out that our first payment from the organization that would pay us for one year, would not give us the first month until we'd finished that month. And we moved in mid-month. But we were hurting. We didn't know a soul in Atlanta. We literally moved to a city without knowing a person.
Oh my goodness, I'll never forget. We get there. And we find out we have to pay our first month's rent on Friday. And we moved in on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, no money. And so, I tell Carol, I gotta go down and talk to the manager. I gotta give the manager our story. She looked at me, she said, what's our story? That's well, our story is God's our provider and God hadn't provided I don't know, I got to tell him something. And I'm just okay. So I'm going to go down and I'm delaying as long as possible. And I said to the manager, I said, “Well, I guess you need our money now, huh? Now it's time to pay the money.” The manager looked at me very apologetically. “What, Oh I'm so sorry I forgot all about your payment today. I have already taken the money to the bank for the weekend. I can't go back to the bank. And we're not allowed to keep money in the office over the weekend. Could you do me a favor?” I said, “What?” “Could you come back Monday morning, first thing to pay.” I said, “Listen, if that helps you guys, no problem.”
And so, I come rushing back to Carol. I said, “Carol, you know that God always loves to wait to the last second to stretch your faith. It's not the last second for us, Carol. I know when it's coming. The money's going to come in the mail. And it's going to come.” It's going to come tomorrow in the mail because you get mail on Saturday in the states and not on Sunday. And I knew we had to pay first thing Monday morning. I said, “Carol, we don't know anybody here. It's obvious God's going to provide through the mail. That's it.” And I was confident. That's, that's how sure I was confident. She says, “Okay, we needed $600.” So, we're praying, God, give us this money. Let it come. So, we had one agenda for that Saturday, that was to meet our mailman. And we're waiting and here comes the mail person. We're so excited. And the mail person just kept going, never stopped nothing for us. My heart sank. And I'm telling you, any faith I had was gone. That night, a Saturday night. I woke up in the middle of night and I got on my knees and I wept like a baby. I said, “God, I don't know what to do. We got a two-month-old that can't eat. We don't have any money. We can't get utilities. I’m too young. People said you're crazy. But I thought it was your call in my life. And I don't know what do I do.” And I just went to bed, just feeling, I am just messed up.
The next morning was Sunday morning. We certainly going to go to church, didn't have our own church. Well, there's a pastor that was very famous, still preaching in his 80s. By His name is Dr. Stanley, Charles Stanley, a big First Baptist Church and we said let's go to let's go to First Baptist. So, we drive downtown to go to First Baptist. True story. We're walking in, literally, to the sanctuary from the outside, and who comes out, but an old buddy of mine from college, who God had used me by His grace in his life, and he'd always felt so appreciative for what I had done. That while I had been at seminary, he on several occasions had sent money to me in the mail, saying hope you'll use this blah blah blah. I'd never felt comfortable receiving it because I thought he was always trying to pay me back. And so, I'd sent the money back on each occasion. Thank you, but use it with somebody who has greater need. We're doing fine right now. But thank you anyway. And I didn't know he was here in Atlanta. I go, Wow. He sees me, he says, “Randy Pope, what are you doing in Atlanta?” And I'm not thinking, I'm not saying it, but I'm thinking it to get your money. You know, my logic. My logic is, that was my money. And then I sent it to him, you know. So, anyway. So, I'm just thinking, God, what a provision you have just provided, I know he's capable. I know he wants to, all I got to do is ask him. And he comes up to me, and he says, “What are you doing here?” I said, “Actually, I'm here to start a church.” He said, “Really? I got to hear about that. Do you know what, I've already gone to the first service, but I'll send my wife and children, we have two cars here anyway. And if you don't mind waiting, in going to the second sit on the very back row, and I'll sit on the on the end and I will slip out when the sermon starts. But I'd love to hear about your church.” Well, I knew that was the time that I could ask him for money. And if you know what I'm talking about you being Christians, you probably do. You know, when God speaks to your heart, through your conscience. And as I'm so excited, I start walking in with him. And I sensed God's saying through my conscience, don't ask for money, don't mention need. Oh my goodness, I fought with God until I sat down. I said, Oh, God, please don't bind my conscience on this one. But you know, this is Christians. It never pays to violate the conscience, you going against the heart of God. And I surrendered. I said, Okay, God, I won't do that. And I never said a word about money or need, it never came up. We sit down, the service begins. I'm telling him about the new church and what we're going to be doing, where it is, and so forth, where it would be. And as I'm talking to him, the service begins. And so, we get quiet. The offering comes and he pulls out a checkbook, and he starts writing a check. He folds it and he's holding it waiting for the offering. Obviously, I didn't think a thing about it. The offering came, I took the plate, I passed it by me to him, he was sitting on the edge on the back row. And he takes the plate, hands it to the to the Usher. And he takes the check, and he turns over, and he stuffs it in my shirt pocket. And when he does, he says, “I hope you'll accept this.” I said, “I will”. This one was not going back. I'll assure you that. But I was so excited because I knew he was going to leave and I could find out how much money because we needed $600 you know. And I didn't know, did he give me enough you know, do I need to ask for more? I just didn't know you know. So, I'm waiting and he never leaves. The sermon starts and Oh my goodness, that had to be the longest sermon I've ever heard in my life. I look over at him. And then I'm looking like this if I could see, I couldn't see the number. Finally, the sermon ends, he leaves. I pull out he check. Open it up. $600, just what we needed. Do you think God provided that? Of course, he did. Through his servant, he provided that. I knew that. And I realized, hey, my faith was so small. But my attempt was so big. I came to the end where I could do nothing. I'd lost all hope. Could I still been in the will of God had the money not been there. And then I have to go back to my original hometown or something and trying to get a job. But yeah, that could happen. And it could be the will of God and the way but how God gets honored. I'm telling that story across the world now to you. And look what the glory God gets from it. That’s often say, let me tell you, when you attempt something so great for God it's doomed to failure lest God be in it. I'm telling you, if you think oh, God could never do something in my life significant. God could never do something significant through my life. Not me. Oh yes, through him and Oh, through her and oh yeah, through them, but not for me. I don't have it. God can't, I could never use it. If that's the way you think you become the primary candidate for God to do just that. Because he gets all the glory. So attempting something so great for God.
Let me tell you another quick story. We were now ready to start our facility, a new facility. We've had a full facility but we were going to relocate like you did. We didn't have any money. We didn't have any really big givers. We didn't have capability at all. But we sensed as an elder leadership team that we were supposed to attempt to relocate even though we may fail. So, we said okay, let's give it a shot. And so, we said how much property should we have. This is probably a bad story to tell you guys, because you live in a very confined area and where we are there's plenty of land, okay? But where we are is very expensive land, maybe not as expensive as you guys here, but you can get a lot of property and we talk in terms of acres. And so, we felt we needed about 50 acres, based on the fact that we said we should get as much as we could see us growing and using during the natural lifetime that I would probably be able to be faster. And that led to that, we did a little formula, and it came out to 50 acres. There weren't churches getting 50 acres, just a couple around the country, but that seemed huge. But we didn't have any money. And we said, Lord, do you want us to go after 50 acres when we don't have any money? And we just sensed again, just like you pray and we sense the Lord was saying you should attempt it. That's the will of God, doesn't mean it is going to work.
So okay, so we sent two guys that were commercial realtors in our church and said, would you go out looking for the best 50 acres anywhere in the area. And we had this big circumference of miles that we could be in any of this area, they came back and said, there's only one piece of property. It meets every need you'd have and beyond. It's the best piece of property in a multiple county area, which is a huge area. It's the number one piece of property, it's very expensive. We'd already set the budget that we felt would be honoring to the Lord to pay and that would be it. And it was big, but we didn't know how we even make it. But that was the number we came to. So, we'll go check on it. So, these guys go talk to the owner. And the owner says how much you willing to pay. They told him he laughed. He said, we'll get four times that amount. No, you're not even in the ballpark. And besides, you're way too late. We've already got a good contract on the property. So, you can just forget this piece of property. So, they came back to me and told me that.
I said, Oh my goodness, that's it. That's it. Well, let's pray and God will show us another place. We prayed for a few weeks. And we never came up with a second backup piece. I said to the two, I said, will you do me a favor? Would you go back and talk to the guy again? They said, why? Are you upping the amount of money? No, same amount of money. We've already set that. Then why do you want me to go back? I said, I don't know. Just put your go back. I just can't they just to be nice to me. They did and they got pushed out against it. Now if you're not raising the money, we're not going to put you on a backup contract.
Okay. So, we prayed for another couple of weeks or whatever, we couldn't find another alternative. So, I call those guys up. I said, look, would you do me this favor, last time I'll ask you to do it. Would you go and would you just ask him again, whether you'll sell the property? He looked at me and said, Ray, this is embarrassing for us. You know, this is like stupid. What are you talking about? I said, one more time. They walk in the door, he looks at them and says, you still want that property. Yeah. And the guy says this. He says how much? They gave him the exact same dollar amount. And he said, sold. Now, unfortunately or fortunately for us, but at that time, it was so much more expensive. It was actually more like 90 acres, is what it turned out to be. And the cost was so high for them. And we had paid only this, we’re offering this man when he says sold. Well, some of that happen and he had a turnaround of his financial situation, he had to have money quick. And he said if you can close at such time. We went, Okay, so we actually have the property under contract.
I'm walking out over the property, looking at it, gorgeous piece of property. And I'm looking at it just thanking God and looking and a lady from a home next to our property. Her property contiguous to ours walks out and says, Get off that property. I said, I'm sorry, but I'm the pastor of the church who is buying this property. She said, well, congratulations for getting it under contract, but you will never use it as a church. Well, the previous contract had dropped, something had happened. And she said you're not going to use the property just like the last person did. And I went, why do you say that? She said, because my next-door neighbor, contiguous to our property is the most powerful woman in this whole area. She was actually the assistant to a man named Newt Gingrich, who is one of the top people in the United States government. Speaker of the House, if you understand the Speaker of the House, she was his right-hand person. She had pulled together 40 homeowners associations, which meant hundreds and hundreds of people and they had the power to do whatever they wanted. She'll never let you own that property.
We went back to our relocation director and said you need to go know this woman real quickly because she's going to be against us and she is going to fight us. And I don't know how we'd ever win. We don't have any cloud or anything. And before we could even address her, she calls us and says, I want you to come to our homeowner’s association meeting. And so, our manager she was talking to said, why, ma'am, why you want us there? She says, I want you to see how enthusiastically I'm going to support your purchase of this property. He went, really? We thought you were going to fight us. She said, I understand that. But I became a Christian, at 50 years of age. I'm now 58. And for eight years, God has given me the ministry of prayer and the gift of faith. And I, for eight years have walked over that property, asking God to protect it from anybody to ever use it, unless they would use it for the glory of God. And when I heard your church, I knew your reputation. And that's my ministry to get you on that property. We got on it unanimously. Then the money God provided for us, just like you, I'm sure the story is unbelievable how it happened.
And we look back and we said, you know what? Faith, that's really what you want to do. You want to live as a ministry, by faith, you want to work as an individual, as a couple, as a family, to live by faith, meaning that you're attempting things once again, that may be well doomed to failure unless God be in it. But that's what faith is. Faith is trusting God for the unseen, and moving out as if he's going to provide, and if he doesn't, being confident, absolutely confident that you're going to be better off because he didn't provide it, you can't lose, it's an all win deal for the Christian. And for some reason, Christians are not doing that.
Okay, so this whole idea of faith, it's kind of a stretching concept, because we are naturally not going to live by faith. That’s something that's very supernatural, only Christians would do something like this, where you step out and attempt the impossible. And so certainly, the element of listening to God is very important, so that we learned how to discern what God would have us to step out to do. And then there's just the whole challenge, how does this really, really work? I want to apply this to what I'm talking about yesterday and tomorrow, without having to know anything that we've talked about, we're talking about sharing your faith. And that's something that is so critically important to the Christian, not just for the fact that people need to hear the gospel, and they're going to only hear it through us. Now there are exceptions, God speaks through dreams and visions, we see that happening in places all over, you know, the Muslim world, for sure. But, but for the most part, God's going to use you and me, how shall they hear unless someone go preach? So that's our job, we got to go preach the gospel. But for the Christian, if I were to ask, how many of you this year have had the privilege of escorting someone over the threshold into the kingdom of God, leading them to faith, God has used you, there'll be a lot of us here that say, Me, I haven't done that. But I'd really like to do that. I should, well, very important that we learn to get trained. And that's why I sort of honor your church for on this right reach out and say, how can we get trained to do that very effectively, we need the right tools, there are all kinds of things. But at some point, we have to step out by faith. You can get all the training you want. But there has to be faith.
I told you earlier that I can't I'm just not a preacher, a pastor. I don't know why in the world I'm doing what I'm doing. I really don't. I've told my wife on many occasions, many occasions. I said, What am I doing as a preacher? Two weeks from now, two and a half weeks from now I hit my 40th anniversary of being the pastor at Perimeter. And, and I go, this is amazing, Carol, what am I doing? Because now a lot of things I do like about being a pastor of a church. A number of things I like, but there are two things, particularly that I do not, I just don't aspire to. It's just not me. It's not what I ever felt like I want to do. One is preaching and the other is pastoring. Think about that. Just one minute. Would you say those might be some important parts of what I do? Preaching and pastoring and never found myself wanting to get up and speak. Not to preach a sermon. I mean, I just find myself saying, Oh, no, I got to go preach.
So, I am looking through a high school annual, a scrapbook that my parents had put together. I was looking for something from my high school years, I told my wife, Carol, I said, Carol, do you know where I might have such and such from my high school years? She said, I don't know if you know about it, you may have never seen it. But there's a scrapbook your parents put together about your high school years and it might be in there. Oh, wow, that would be interesting. So I go to the closet, find this old scrapbook, I've never even seen it. So I'm all by myself flipping through looking for this thing. And kind of, you know, reading stuff. It's fun just to kind of remember past and I come across this piece of paper that unfolds to be about this wide. I mean, it's old, dark piece of crumpled. I mean things getting old now. And I find out it is a high school, college assessment, about what career assessment, you know how you take a little test to find out what you would be good in when you go to college. So, this is coming out of high school to prepare me what I should be a major and when I should spend my time. And I said, Well, this will be interesting now that I've been in, you know, been in my career, 40 years. So let's just see. So open thing up, and here's 40 different careers. And then here are 40 different numbers. And each one, the number would tell you how likely I would be successful in that career. Well, the highest number on my page was a 46. I'd like to think that maybe the highest potential was 50. It may be 100. I don't know. But I saw a 46. And I went, That's interesting. And I go across and it says physician. Well, my dad was a dentist. He was in medicine. And I had actually thought you know what, that could be a good career, I might go into some related field of medicine, so I could see that. So what's my next number? Oh, there's a there's a 44. And I go across and it says, lawyer. And I go you know what that makes sense to me. Because I love arguing over things, you know, that I really believe are true, right? I could fight for something, you know that? Yeah, I could be a lawyer. And I look about the next three or four or five down in every one I went, I can see me doing that. I can see me doing that. I can see me doing that. And then I said, Okay, enough of that I'm getting down now always. Let me go to my lowest number. So I look up and down. Whoo. There's an eight, single digit, I go across, Pastor. I go to Carol and I say, Carol. This explains it. This explains it. I'm not wired to be a pastor. That's why I've always said this.
So just a few weeks ago, just a few weeks ago, I was getting ready to preach. And we have a Saturday night service. And so, I was Saturday, late afternoon, I'm getting ready to go to church to do the Saturday night service. And Carol says to me just very cool. She says, Randy, are you ready for tonight? And my response to her I don't know where it came from. I said, Carol, may I tell you how I feel? Not just right now, but every week I preach? She said, yeah. I said, I feel like I'm at the edge of a cliff that's a mile down. And that God has just told me, would you just lean forward and flap your arms and I promise you, you'll fly. I said, you know what, Carol? For now, 40 years, I've been leaning over and falling forward and flapping my arms. And I know up here because I've never done anything but fly. I've never gone to the bottom. And it's over. I have been flapping my arms and I've been flying. But I don't care how many years I do this. I will never feel that it should be and will be that when I lean over and flap my arms I will fly. I don't see how I can do that. That doesn't work. I know this that when we were in the midst of our relocation as a church, man, it was scary because we sold our facility without having the money to even be able to pay off the property much less to build a building. We didn't know how it's going to work. We just sense God was saying do it. Let's go for it. And so we were doing it. And I'm telling you time and time again. It got to where we said, it looks like we're not going to make it. We were at one of those junctures where it looked like we were going to have to just admit we failed and we're without a place now and shut down the church if need be. I mean, it was bad.
And it was during that time, that for the only time ever I really began to sense that maybe God was saying to me, it's time for you to leave perimeter church. And I love the church I had started and been pastoring for 15,18 years that time and I started doing something I don't do very often. I started weeping and crying. Carol would say to me, Randy, you don't cry very much. What’s the matter? I say, I think God's calling me away from perimeter. She say, really? You think he would want you to leave perimeter? Yeah, I just I don't know. It's just odd. I didn't even know why. I just felt he wanted us to leave.
So I'm in the middle of speaking at a conference down in South Florida. I'm having to drive through a place that I have a very dear friend who is a top tennis professional. And there were the biggest clubs there. And one of my dear friends, great tennis player. And I had never beaten him in tennis in my life. Never. And, but that was my aspiration was to get where I could beat him. He was a nationally rated. I mean, he was just so good. I thought if I ever beat him, that'll be meeting that goal. And I'd love to hear, but I never done it. So, I was coming through spend the night with him on my way back up to Atlanta. And as I'm driving through, and he says, Hey, let's play. Let's play tennis, is it fine. And I played tennis with him. And I beat him for the first time and only time in my life. I beat him. I was so excited. So I was about ready to go to bed and he came in he said Pope you shouldn't beat me. You should never beat me. Something was rare today. I'm going to prove to you can't do that again. So we’re going to get up early in the morning before you leave, we're going to play again. I said, Oh, no, no, no, we're not either. I'm leaving on victory. In fact, in my mind, I'd made the decision. I would never play him again. I would hope. So I was so thrilled with that victory, he says no Pope, you're getting up. He wakes me up at the crack of dawn. He says we're getting out to the club. We're going to go before you go home. We're going to play again. Well, I know some of you don't play tennis and don't know scoring. But that time we played, he beat me 6-0-6-0. If you don't know anything about tennis, trust me, that's a bad score. And I didn't win a game. We finished the match. He said to me, Randy. I've seen you play poorly. In the years we play tennis, but I've never seen you not try. You weren't trying today. What's up?
And God use that, I said, I'm going to be honest with you. I had a fear of failure. I feared you beat me. And I thought if I don't try, I'll never know. And it's my way out. It's a fear of failure. As I drove home, it was like God speaking to me, a knife into my chest. I said, you know what? God's not calling me to leave this church. I'm afraid of failure. I just don't like failure. And I thought it's a way to save face. So I journaled this that day. When I got home, in the next morning, I think I was in the word and I said, I've led our church to the seashore. I was in Exodus, where, of course, you know the story, the Red Sea. There's no way out. And Pharaohs armies are getting closer and closer. I'm sure the troops are beginning to wonder whether the water is going to part. My confidence in my ability to get people across the sea has vanished. And that's good. But in light of the diminished confidence, I found myself both frightened and discouraged. Part of my fear is that is my growing concern that the closer Pharaoh gets, the more unwilling our congregation would be to stand in faith, to see the waters part. But I am committed to leading them across those waters. Not all of us, not all will go with us. But win or lose, we're going to finish the race. That was my journal that day.
And so that day I said Lord, it is a new chapter. And now we're going to, we're going to go for hopefully seeing this church, make it and relocate the money to build and all the things we need. But I don't see how it's going to happen. But here's what we're going to do. We're going to get on the ledge, we didn’t use this analogy then, but we're just going to lean forward and flap our arms. We'll see what happens. And let me tell you, I'm telling you for that year, it was the most dramatic, obvious presence of God, what he did, the way he supplied the things that happen. Every day was a new chapter of all, it was wonderful. See, that's the way life can be and should be for Christians, but you know what we have to do? We have to go to the ledge, lean forward and flap our arms. And there's nothing that is scarier than doing that. Because nobody likes to fail. I don't like to fail. You don't like to fail. But if we don't put ourselves in those places, it's not by faith. We just live in by sight every day.
So I think the great challenge to all of us is this. What if we were to find the areas that God would want us to be faithful, maybe it's in witness, whatever it is, and to say, you know what I will start doing? I will start going to the edge, leaning forward and flapping my arms with the knowledge that if I do fall, what if I fail in preaching? What if I get out and I start flapping my arms and the sermon goes terrible, and I can't communicate, and I get all tied up and people start laughing at my sermon, and people start walking out while I'm preaching. That's the worst thing that could ever happen. Do I die because of that? Not really? What? Why? Why would not I take the risk? Why would I just get up and lean forward and just keep flapping? Why wouldn't we do that in witness? Okay, this probably can never work, but I'm gonna go talk to them and I'm gonna be bold enough. I'm gonna just lean forward and flap my arms. As a church, collectively, the leaders, why don't we get together as leaders and say, Hey, let's do something doomed to failure. Let's just flap our arms, see what happens. And but let's listen to God very carefully to make sure we think we're doing what he would call us to do. So that's the whole idea of Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the confidence of things not seen”. Verse six, “Without faith, it's impossible, please God”.
8. Highly Effective Kingdom Leaders Choose Health Over Size and Influence Over Success
Okay. All right, let's go to what was number eight, on our list, which was highly effective Kingdom leaders choose health over size and influence over success. When I was pastoring, Perimeter in our 25th, year 23rd year, we wanted to look at our 25 as a big landmark year, and that we wanted to make sure that there were nothing that God would have us to redo, rethink, and so forth. And so we had a two year period that we said, let's just consider what God would want to do to reorg the church in any way possible. And so at that time, we started thinking and talking about our church, and what we should do and how we should do it, and so forth. And I began to cast a vision. As I always spend time alone, I go away on a regular basis to listen to God, think and pray. And I came back with a vision I said, I think God would want us to start being a church of mercy and justice, that we would give a lot of our attention to mercy and justice. And I started casting the vision of what it would look like and how we could see the city changed and things we could do.
And one of the guys in our church, one of our staff heard me say it, and he dropped a book on my lap. And he said, I want you to read this book. It's called the church of irresistible influence. Well, the author happened to be a friend of mine, I didn't even know he'd written this book. It was about his church, which is halfway across the United States. And I had never really attended, didn't know much about but it was talking about a thing they had walked through doing the same thing a few years earlier. And he said, Randy, I think this is what you're talking about. So I read the book, great book. And when I finished it, I shared a story that he put in the book. I may have changed the story a little bit. It's been so long ago, I don't remember exactly. But here's basically the story. It speaks for itself. He used the illustration of a person that moves into a new property he purchases and a new community. And he buys an ocean front lot. And so he is there on the water's edge. He's moving in, he walks onto his property, and there's his neighbor who he's not met, and the neighbors hanging over the fence next door.
And he says, Hey Neighbor, and they speak and so forth. And as they're talking, the new resident says, Neighbor, look out there and there's a little island out there, offshore, small little island, and there's a little tiny building I can see there. What is that little building? He said, we know that building is, that's a church, I think. No one can be sure, nobody knows anybody that I know. Nobody knows anybody that goes out there. But apparently, it's a church because it's Sunday morning that you'll see 8 or 10 or 20 little boats puddled around there and they go to the island and about noon time they come back. We just feel sure it's a church. He said that's what you call an isolated church. No real major impact. Scenario number two. Hey, neighbor. What is that huge building out there on that little island? That's incredibly big building for such a small island? What in the world is that?
I'll tell you what that is. That's the first church of the island. Yeah. Let me tell you. That's an incredible place apparently. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't go to church. But it's the church that anybody who is in church will want to go to because it's the place to go to church. Wait till you see, Sunday morning, there will be 1000s of boats going out there. 1000s of boats. And then at noon time, 1000s of boats. It's so impressive. It's amazing. They say the music out there is incredible. They say that the speaker is just the most entertaining speaker. It's amazing. Everybody wants to go to church there. He says there is the church of success.
Scenario number three, a neighbor. What is that building out there on that little island? And what's the deal with that bridge? That bridge connecting that island to the mainland is absolutely enormous. And look at all the cars on that bridge. What in the world are people going out there?
Oh ho, ho, ho that’s a church. A church? Yeah. Yeah. And by the way, it's unique. Do you know? Do you know who built that? That? That big bridge? No. The people of the church built the bridge. They built the bridge. Why? Oh, it's so that they can day and night, go and get resources to come back to the community to serve in the community. And you see all those cars, that's going to be that way, all day and night, all week long. Oh, you'll see people going on Sunday, too. But it's more than that. In fact, everybody in this community, they all know that if anything ever would have happened to that church, this community is in big, big trouble. He said there is the church of influence.
And that very day, I told our staff, we have one commitment, we're going to honor, we're going to be a church of influence. We're going to give ourselves away. We're going to serve others, we're going to work for the good of the community, we're going to bring the kingdom to bear and whether it brings people to our church or somebody else's church for that matter. That's not going to be the issue. If it's coming, if we're getting all, no, we're not here to see how big we can get. And you know, this, by the way, that I'm sure you follow the same here, but I'm not impressed with big churches. Our church is a very big church. And we've been around a little bit longer than you all, we’re a bit, a little bit bigger than you guys. But I'm not impressed with big churches and I pastor one, I'm really not. But the way I look at it something like this. Can you imagine if next year, I were to come back here to speak. And I were to come back and I'd put on let's say 200 pounds? 200 pounds? How many people here, if you were back, do you think would make this statement when you saw me? Wow. Look how big he's gotten. That's unbelievable. How do you get that big? I'd love to do that. You probably say, what happened to him? Something's not good. You know the same can be true of churches. Now, if I, for some reason had grown, and instead of me being five, nine, I'd become six, seven. And I weighed 200 more pounds. And it was muscle. There might be a little bit of Wow, that's amazing, how did he do that? But no, not if I just put on weight, just because I get big. A lot of churches are putting on a lot of weight. And it's not because they're healthy. See, I'm convinced when a church starts thinking not about size, but only about health. Let's be healthy for the Kingdom. Let's be healthy for the Kingdom. Not let's be healthy for us, but it's healthy for the kingdom at large. But let's not be worried about how big are we? How much do we grow? And did we this or do it? No, no, no. You become healthy, you'll grow to the size you need to be growing. That'll take care of itself. That's the by-product. It's you always keep your mind focused on the most important thing and that is being healthy. When a church becomes a church of influence. Now you're moving in the direction of health. When you say we're gonna be a church to success, that's not going to be very healthy. That makes sense.
9. Highly Effective Kingdom Leaders Embrace The Ideal Of 3-Strand Ministries
The next one was number nine on the list, highly effective Kingdom leaders embrace the ideal of three-strand ministries. A little crossover to what I was just saying, a little bit about it. I had a man who called me, he was a assistant pastor of a very, very noted church in the Atlanta area, pastor very known, very big ministry. And he said, I'd like to have lunch with you. Okay, so we had lunch, and we're sitting over lunch, and he said, you know, the pastors of Atlanta. We talk about Perimeter church. And you kind of had got us kind of interested, amazed. There's something about Perimeter that's very special. And we talk among ourselves, and we don't know what it is. What is it that makes Perimeter what Perimeter is? I didn't know the answer to that question. I said, Well, that's a quite a compliment. And I'm honored to hear you say that, but I'll give you just a stab at maybe what you're picking up on. And he said, Thank you, what is it?
And I said, if you look at American church history, and of course, you don't study American church history. But if you looked at it, I can go to any conference of pastors, this size. And I can say to them, and I don't care if you're coming from Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, it doesn't matter where you come from, what denominational background, independent, Bible Church, doesn't matter. And I'll say, who would you say is the greatest pastor, leader in the history of the American church, and you get the exact same answer. You know, who I hear? Randy Pope, no, not me, him. I know who it would be. Jonathan Edwards. And that’s interesting, you would even say. Jonathan Edwards, many people know the name, Jonathan Edwards. But they don't know why.
What made Jonathan Edwards so special? Well, in my limited understanding of church history, here's my take on it. If you look at Jonathan Edwards, he was unique in his leadership, and the church, that was how they function. They were what I call the three-strand church. Three strands, meaning these three, head, heart and hand. A very deep, rich, historical, biblical theology, the head. I mean, they never compromise the depth of theology in their church. It was rich and deep theology. But at the same time, it was a church of the heart. There was passion for the things of God. There was evangelism taking place. There was worship, just strong worship. So there's the heart, very strong. But they also were a church of the hand, which was a hand demonstrating mercy and justice. For the needs of the people through the community. It was a three-strand church.
At this time, we were just initiating the idea of putting the hands. So I didn't want to think at all that we were modeling that yet. As today, we would be known as the church in Atlanta, probably among all churches, we would be highlighted as the Church of the hands. But I said, You know what I think's unique to Perimeter. I think we're a two-strand church and most, most churches are one strand. I think we're a church of the head and the heart and Lord willing, one day we're going to be a good church of the hands. But here's the history of our church and America. The American church. You used to in Jonathan Edwards days, you had the three strands, at least there you did. But something happened and liberalism came into America, particularly in the 1920s, the liberal church began to take root. And the liberal church took away the heart of the gospel, took away what really was the gospel. And so, the spiritual truth and reality was pulled out. All right. And so, the head no more, it's gone away. So, what happened was, what was left was the physical needs. So now you have a division in the church, you have the liberal churches, and you have the conservative churches. The liberal churches looked after the body, physical. They didn't have the gospel. Spiritual was dead. So, the rest of the church said, Oh, liberals look after the body, we don't look after the body. We look after the soul. And so, all of a sudden, the American church became a two-strand Church, the Evangelical Bible-believing church became two strands. Well, in the last 20, 30, 40 years, in America, we've seen this huge shift, where there's been a division between the two strands, where now, the head gone away.
Now, pablum, don't feed people spiritually, don't give them the rich, hard theology, that's so not necessary. What we're going to do is we're going to entertain you, we're going to give you the best music you've ever heard, we're going to make this a feel-good church, we're going to lower the least common denominator beliefs so that no one ever disagrees on anything. And we're not going to teach anything that could be controversial. We're not going to show any discipline in the life of the church, we're just gonna, we're gonna see how many people can come and enjoy worshiping with us. And we're gonna bring people from everywhere, and they're gonna love it, it's gonna be a great experience. But the worship was fat, you know, the music was great. And a lot of these churches, passionate, literally passionate for souls, passionate for, you know, worship, some of them, not so much as others, but many of them. And so, what happened is, then you have these churches that are kind of left that are just teaching truth. And they're just really big on truth, but they're dead as a doornail in terms of, you know, just terrible, dry, boring. You know, but no, truthful, but it was, so you get your choice now. So, in America, you kind of pick. Are you going to church, the head, when you get good truth, but it's going to be a hard swallow, you know. Or, you can go over here to really take care of people, and but you're not gonna get the gospel at all. Or you can come here and get church light, but it's going to be enthusiastic, it's going to be exciting. So, most people today are choosing the heart, if you have to pick one or the other. Well, I think we need to give the option where they could find churches that are head, heart and hand. That, to me is where the church should be headed today. That becomes healthy, when your head, heart and hand.
Values to follow
In fact, I want to close by giving counsel to any of you that are followers of Christ. People ask me a lot since I'm getting older. Now. They asked me if you could share anything you could share with a young Christian. Anything, what would you share with them? What would your counselor device be? That's always easy for me to answer.
I say if you want to really go strong, if you want the end of your life, to be heralded as someone that, wow, they were kingdom people, wow, godly people. Wow. If you want that, I can tell you this, you want to, you want to follow a few values. One value is simplicity. The second is repetition. The third is going to be modeling, you could add a fourth that was on my list. And that was that we didn't cover and the fourth would be multiplication.
But I'll tell you this, if you were to take those values and apply them to three commitments, three commitments, I can demand here are the values. Value number one, you heard me say it is simplicity. You better make all three of these things I'm about to mention, you better make them as simple as you can possibly make them simple. The way you can do that is you make sure it's repeatable, that you can repeat it. If it's not simple, you can't repeat it. You got to be able to repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat if it's your personal worship, man, you better make it simple enough that you can repeat it every day. If you say, Well, I'm gonna read for three hours. I'm going to do this for two hours. I'm not gonna repeat that many times. If it's a diet, how am I going to how am I going to treat my body? Man, if you know, well, I can't eat but three and a half ounces of this, I can't help but this, then this, now, you can go on a diet for a short time, but it won't last long. You got to be able to repeat it over and over and over year after year after year. So, you repeat it. Then the best thing is, once you had found something simple and you found it, you found it that it's repeatable over and over and over. Then in humility, model it to somebody else because we learn from people, from watching them, from learning from their experience. And then whatever you do, try to multiply, try to give it to them so that they can give it away to somebody else.
Now you take those four key things right there, and you apply it to three commitments. Here are the three commitments. Commitment number one, to be a sincere worshipper, that you would say I am going to make it my life commitment that on a daily basis I'm gonna be alone with God and I will be worshipping him. It's going to be a personal commitment to worship God daily. And corporately, outside of being providentially hindered, I will be gathering with the family of God at my church, and I'm gonna be worshiping Him. That's a sincere worshiper right there. You commit to that to be a sincere worshiper. Number one.
Number two, be what I'm going to call a faithful, but not necessarily fruitful. That's not my word fruitful, a faithful disciple maker. Meaning, go to non-disciples, and try by God's grace to help them become disciples or followers. You're sharing your faith with lost people; you're mixing it up with lost people with the intention of getting them to understand the gospel and embrace it. So that's number two, a faithful not necessarily fruitful, but a faithful disciple maker.
Number three, you become an effective disciple trainer. Always have three, four or five children or youth or adults, that you are devoting your attention to, to help them become as deep a follower as you become, even if you're not that far along. You're helping other people who are less far along. You just always be investing in a handful of people. I've been privileged. I was challenged to do that many, many, many years ago. And I did. And this year, I am right now ending in the next month or so I end, my 50th consecutive year of having a small handful of people that I'm investing my life in just for a year two or three, I'll invest my life and those kind of stuff. Some coming in that group, some going out, never for more than three years, never less than one year. And I'll just keep a small group and I keep investing in them, an investment.
I'm telling you this, my ministry, I think has been more powerful through those few people working in one little group year after year after year, than they preach into 1000s of people every Sunday. It's being what I call an effective disciple trainer. You put those three together, I challenge young people I say, let me ask you this. Do you know anybody who is 70 years of age or older, that you are convinced have been very faithful in all three of those areas? If you do, I want you to write their name down. Write your name down or whatever. And then I'll say now once you take that name, and I want you to tell me yes or no. Is that person somebody you're odd with in terms of their life with God? Are they the most unique people that you would love to pattern your life after? You'd love to be just like them when you get to be that age? And hands will go up and say, absolutely. You try it, you give some names. The truth is you won't know many names. You'll say, Well, Paul, but beyond that. I don't know. I mean, there's too few. But those three, you keep those three for lifetime, woo just get ready. Everything else will take care of itself. You watch. All right.
Let me pray. We'll close now. Father, thank You for our time together, pray you would make this profitable for your kingdom. And thank you for highly effective Kingdom leaders that are here and many that are going to be built to be strong and stronger and stronger leaders even because of this church. So, we thank you we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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