Excerpt from Pressing Toward the Prize - February 16, 2011
As you transition into this ministry, some of you are seeking freedom from religious bondage or deliverance from the carnal whims of church leaders who are in pursuit of fame and fortune. We want to assure you that we refuse to establish a church where the pastors become celebrities. We refuse to raise a congregation that possesses a mind set of always wondering if they are ‘saved’ or not. We will not create an atmosphere where people can never know if they are pleasing God, and never be sure if whether their mistakes and decisions have cost them their salvation.
For some of you, these are non-issues in your life, but for others, these are major obstacles and walls. Many of you seem to have been exposed to so much works-based teaching, that what you are hearing now is like fresh air and new life. Perhaps you are transitioning from environments where there was only a focus on the laws of God.
Many pastors turn people away from grace and preach another gospel. Galatians 3:1-3 reads: "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?"
We refuse to become pastors who use people’s uncertainty about their standing in God to manipulate them into church attendance and giving money; causing them to try to maintain their salvation and righteousness by giving their time, talent and treasure into the church.
We desire to raise a congregation that is made up of hearts and homes that are strong in the Lord. So, the past few weeks we have been teaching about the commitment the Lord has made to His people. We've been talking about the PACT the Lord has made with us. The reason we have turned the focus away from our human efforts to obtain or maintain righteousness, is because we have come to this reality: As we behold the Lord and receive His love and commitment to us, we are empowered to commit our lives to Him and our families.
So, we might become labeled as one of those ‘love and grace’ churches who are offering excuses for sinful and immature Christian behavior. But that’s not the reason why we minister to you guys the way we do.
The original call on us was to minister to God’s people as spiritual parents. Twenty years ago the prophetic word over us was that we were called to be a father and mother in Zion. Since that day, the Lord has given us oversight over teenagers, young adults, pre-marital couples, small groups, and now, an entire congregation. The calling has remained the same even though the responsibilities have increased.
Ephesians 6:4 (NIV) states: "Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
Even as natural parents, we knew that we could not raise healthy sons in an atmosphere of destructive criticism, condemnation, unrealistic expectations, sarcasm, intimidation and fear. That will totally exasperate a child and the same scripture applies when leading a church family.
That’s the reason why one of the requirements for choosing overseers in the church was to observe how that candidate raised their own children. It was because he or she would be that same type of spiritual parent and leader in the church. Harsh parents would most likely become harsh pastors. Judgmental parents would become judgmental pastors. Insensitive parents would become insensitive pastors. Firm and loving parents would most likely be firm and loving pastors.
1 Corinthians 4: 15-16 (NKJV) reads: "For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."
There is a vast difference between being an instructional pastor and a parental pastor. In order to build a healthy and strong church family, we are convinced that there must be an atmosphere of encouragement, tenderness, patience, listening, affection and love. Even when correction and reproof is necessary, it still comes forth from this foundation of grace.