Jesus said He would build His ekklesia. Jesus said He would build His ruling, legislative body who governs the Kingdom on this earth. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Who knows how to accomplish that?!? No amount of white-boarding ideas is going to figure out how to do that! Good thing Jesus said He would be the One to build the ekklesia - to build that level of influence in every sphere of society! He did not say He would disciple nations. That part is ours. This is the thesis of the whole series. We disciple nations. He builds His ekklesia.
One thing about “new initiatives” is that many people have learned to just “weather the storm … you know it will be gone in a year. I’m not going to let this one go by the wayside. I don’t know what we are doing exactly but I am pregnant with this vision and I believe I received it from the Lord over a period of time and it keeps getting stronger and stronger in me. So our church is going to be a church of influencers that spread Kingdom influence to their sphere of society. You are going to find out that every single one of you is an influencer and every single one of you does have a sphere.
When Megan met me she was already 2 years into college and at that point in time she wasn’t having a thriving relationship with the Lord. She wasn’t fellowshipping with others and didn’t have the leadership roles with others that she was used to having while in High School. She wasn’t having input from the Lord (-1), she wasn’t having regular fellowship with peers in the Lord (0), and she wasn’t playing a mentoring role (+1) where she was giving out a lot and discipling people. As a result of all of these things, Megan wasn’t growing in the Lord and was kind of coasting on fumes when she met me. When she met me she could tell the Lord was drawing me. The Lord gave her a vision for me. She started praying for me. I didn’t know the Lord at that point so she started praying for me. That rejuvenated her prayer life with the Lord. She was talking to the Lord again (about someone else) and that gave her an opportunity to approach the Lord again. Additionally, I was so hungry because I was so needy (REALLY needy) that it made her hungry again.
When you’ve been in the Lord for a long time, it is harder to be hungry because you already have a foundation, you know how things go, and you can kind of coast in life. If you don’t have something new going on it can be easy to coast. Having a hungry, needy baby around changes all of that. They have needs that need met (which demands something new of you) and it helps remind you of all the Lord has done for you!
Babies don’t choose hunger, they just are hungry. The mature must choose hunger. The mature must choose progress which causes hunger. If you are seasoned in the Lord, stagnation becomes very easy - because you actually need to put yourself in positions where the Holy Spirit needs to be your comforter again in order to grow again into greater things in the Lord. You may think “why did I grow faster when I was new in the Lord?” I often say “if you think you’ve arrived, you’re right.” I’m consistently coaching myself. “Lord, help me start again. Help me start afresh. Help me take some new ground.” I thrive on having some external challenges that cause me to step in again with hunger.
When you are ministering to someone else, they will draw on you. When Megan and I felt the grace for me to step into the lead pastor role I asked Brad “how do you structure your week?” Brad said something to me that I took and ran with (remember that one of the characteristics of a good disciple is faithfulness … which LOOKS LIKE follow-through!) Brad told me that 90% of my effectiveness is going to come from my time in prayer and time in the Word. I thought to myself “I have my marching orders!” I had this thing on me “you need to make a DECISION - that you are going to hold your time in the Word and in prayer sacrosanct.”
We were up at my Megan’s family’s lake house. The kids were taking a nap. I was on my face in the living room, praying, and reading the Word. The Lord speaks this to me: “never give up the golden goose … only give golden eggs” and He directs me to John 15:4-8. You can take this set of verses to the bank! 90% of your ministry effectiveness is right here in these verses. John 15:4-8 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
What’s the amount of fruit you can bear apart from Jesus? ZERO. If you would like to have fruit to disciple someone with, where should you get it? I know it sounds silly but the average pastor who quits the pastorate spends less than 30 minutes a week in the Word and in prayer TOTAL. I am NOT being critical. That is not why they got into the pastorate. Here’s the progression:
When you are a branch in the vine, you bear fruit naturally and so you show yourself to be a disciple and bring glory to God. If you get disconnected from the vine, you wither. When you wither, do you bear fruit? Nope. But if you are ministering, people still come to you for …. FRUIT!
I had fruit they were eating and I wasn’t working for that fruit. I was just abiding in Christ and I had fruit. People come up and say “can I eat your fruit?” I am thinking “that’s fine, freely I’ve received. Freely I give. More will come where it came from because I am connected to the vine.”
Now if I get disconnected from the vine (God-forbid) now I am on the ground sort of withered and with no fruit. Now people come up to me and say “can I have some fruit?” Out of pride I may respond “go ahead because I get my identity and value from having fruit for you so I won’t be honest and tell you that I am actually ALL OUT OF FRESH FRUIT!” Don’t do that! They think “I don’t see any fruit but I’ll eat the branch.” So now they are not eating fruit, they are eating wood! Yuck. And the wood they are eating is YOU!
That is what is called BURN-OUT scripturally. You’ve been eaten alive by those whom you were supposed to feed naturally and without any effort through a connection you happen to have. Instead, now you are in a disconnected place, you don’t have the fruit, but they will still eat you.
If you feel like you are in a place of disconnection right now, there is no condemnation in it. Listen to this sermon (particularly the 2nd half of it) for many powerful tips to re-establishing your day-to-day connection with God!