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“You are not welcome here.”

I received a call recently from a man living several states away from me in the USA. As he spoke with me, I could discern that something was bothering him. I could hear it in his voice. Do you know what I mean? His initial discussion was just introductory; how are you? I am fine; the weather is changing, etc. But the speed and tone of his voice sounded like a backpacker hiking 50 miles uphill with 75 pounds of gear on his back. After several minutes of some good small talk, the weighted voice on the other end of the line said, “The reason I called was to ask you about something I experienced at my Church the other day, and I wanted to ask you about how you would handle something like this.”

My conversation soon turned to the subject of the burden I sensed he was carrying. He proceeded to tell me what happened at his Church and how he was directly involved with it all. I think I can sum up the experience without having to tell every detail of the situation.

He proceeded to tell me how he encountered a young lady wandering around the church lobby and communion prep room of the Church. She was clearly under the influence of some drug, underdressed for the winter conditions, dirty and messy, and helping herself to the communion elements, as she was hungry. She was not violent or causing any crucial circumstances to frighten or threaten anyone. My caller told me that he proceeded to address her with kindness carefully; he asked her if he could help her with anything. (This is a challenging situation to encounter during a church service, how would you respond to a scene/person like this?) As she began answering him, the police immediately arrived and arrested her and began escorting her out of the Church. It became clear that some people from the Church had called 911 earlier and asked the police to deal with this stranger. The man on the other end of my phone told me that this young woman told the police that she was cold, hungry, and wanted to go to the Church service, and she resisted a little bit from being taken back outside into the cold. She was placed under arrest and escorted out anyway. This young woman is known in the community by the police. It was not the first time someone called the cops on her. It seemed she would prefer to go to a warm jail and have food than wander the cold winter streets. What we do know is that this young, drugged-out woman has a background of being sex trafficked, abused, drug addictions, theft, and other troubles. Would you agree with me that something deep inside her soul told her that she should step inside a Church building as soon as she could?

The man on the phone then proceeded to tell me what the officer said, after being told by this young lady say she wanted to stay for the Church service…

The officer replied to her… “Mam, you are not welcome here.”

The man I was talking on the phone with said, “that phrase hit me like a ton of bricks.” At that moment, I now understood why the caller sounded like he was carrying such a heavy burden.
After hearing the officer make that pronouncement, my caller tried to tell the officer that her statement wasn’t technically true. The officer looked at him quickly, cuffed the young woman, and escorted her out of the Church. The words and quick look from the officer pierced him as he realized that this woman wasn’t welcome here, and her removal by the police proved it.

I now understood why the caller sounded like he was carrying such a heavy burden. I am grateful he called me, and I am thankful that I got the privilege to help this man carry his burden. Nobody should carry loads alone, not this caller, not the young woman arrested, not you. Jesus says it best.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

–Jesus of nazareth

After hearing the story, I told this man how he couldn’t do much of anything else once the police arrived. I encouraged him not to be so hard on himself, and we then strategized about his next steps. Clearly, the Holy Spirit prompted my caller to contemplate the culture and circumstances that caused the cops to be called at his Church and then instruct this woman that she was not welcome at this Church.

We talked about a what-if. What if this woman was Jesus in disguise? If not Jesus, then maybe an angel disguised? What if this whole scenario was God testing the Church regarding how they treat someone described as one of society’s, ‘least of these.’

“I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these, you were doing it to me.”

Jesus–Matthew 25:40

My caller was haunted for days regarding that officer’s statement.

I am confident you will agree that the very worst declaration the officer could have said to the woman at this church service was declared. My caller and I spent some time simply talking about the state of the Church in America today and its faithfulness to the teachings and commands of Jesus. Our tone was not judgmental; instead, it was a tone of burden. Our final discussion before we hung up was about his strategy regarding what to do about this whole disheartening scenario. We brainstormed what we wish would have happened with this young woman, a least of these, drunkenly wandering into the Church service.

I wish that Church would have had a deliberately strategized and practiced plan of what to do if this young lady walks through their doors, especially if it happens on a Sunday morning. We talked about who was responsible for setting the tone and culture that would immediately take notice of this young lady, in her terrible condition, as she limped into Church on Sunday morning. I wish the Church had a plan to respond to this woman immediately.

How amazing would it have been if those present were trained and prepared to approach this young woman with a blanket? Add to that a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate, a small room to sit and feel safe. Add to those a strategized team of ministry volunteers equipped with resources, security training, medical personnel, phone numbers, plans, and follow-through to help this young woman recover if she is willing to receive the help. Is this too much to ask for from the Church? Is it fair for me to ask the following questions? Isn’t the Church supposed to be a Hospital for the sick? A Coastguard for the drowning? A Refuge for the threatened and fleeing? A Clothing shop for the naked? A Water Well for the thirsty? A Friend for the lonely? A Family for the orphan? It is also a gathering for the body of Christ. It is also a school for the disciple. We are the Church. The previous descriptors are not just something your Church facility on the corner of Main street USA and your Church staff are responsible for. YOU are the Church. Some say, “It starts with you!” But I’m afraid I have to disagree, in this situation, with that statement. The Bible tells us that preachers and teachers will be held to a higher standard and judgment than non-preachers and teachers.

So, I strategized with the guy on the other end of the phone. We talked about what to do to get the ball rolling regarding making the change in his Church. Next time, the goal would be to be fully ready for a ‘least of these’ wandering into a Church service. The plan will be for all to be strategically prepared. Not only prepared but praying for the least of these to walk through their doors!

I recommended that he request a meeting early in the week and especially suggested that he not approach the Pastor before the worship service starts next Sunday. (Remember the focus required before giving a speech, so protect this time for your Pastor by having difficult conversations after the message.

As he arrives for the appointment, I recommend that he discuss this whole scenario with the Lead Pastor by remembering one thing. Less is more. I challenged my caller to do very little talking. I recommended that he walk into the office, have a seat, tell the Pastor how much you appreciate him and your attending Church each weekend, is proof of such. Proceed to say to the Pastor what happened and say to the Pastor what the officer told the young woman…”The officer told her, ‘you are not welcome here.” Then ask the Pastor this…”What do you think about the officer telling that woman that she is not welcome here?”

Then just Listen.

Don’t say a word, even if it means total silence for minutes. Just sit there and be still. I told the caller the only thing I could recommend to him was what I would do at that moment if I were him. I told him that I would listen to the Pastor carefully. The Pastor’s response would become the epicenter of my next decision. His response would help me determine whether to call that Church my home from there out. If so, then I would fully assist in developing our entire Church body, starting from the pulpit, to the parking lot, to the perimeters of the planet, to be the hands and feet of Jesus in any situation. Or, if the Pastor just shrugged this whole situation off, it would begin, for me, searching for a Church that takes the Teachings and Commands of Jesus severe enough to demonstrate that Heaven and Hell are in the balance and eternity is at stake, and how we respond to the least of these is critical.

Oh, I pray that the pastor senses the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and I pray what the officer told the young lady haunts that pastor to his very soul’s core. I pray that Church has a trajectory change in focus, purpose, and passion. I pray that their new Church mantra will become something like this…

“We love people so much, we will serve anyone in our line of site who is hungry, thirsty, lonely, or has a shattered life, in the name of Jesus.”

Oh what a Church that will be!


The Dark Side Of A Long-Term Pastorate

Last week I shared a story from Bob Iger’s book The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, today I’d like to share one statement that Iger makes that has been following me around ever since I first read it. As Iger is contemplating his coming retirement, he says this:

I’m comforted by something I’ve come to believe more and more in recent years—that it’s not always good for one person to have too much power for too long. Even when a CEO is working productively and effectively, it’s important for a company to have change at the top. I don’t know if other CEOs agree with this, but I’ve noticed that you can accumulate so much power in a job that it becomes harder to keep a check on how you wield it. Little things can start to shift. Your confidence can easily tip over into overconfidence and become a liability. You can start to feel that you’ve heard every idea, and so you become impatient and dismissive of others’ opinions. It’s not intentional, it just comes with the territory. You have to make a conscious effort to listen, to pay attention to the multitude of opinions.

One of Chemistry’s core beliefs is that we need to extend the average tenure of ministry staff from the current average of 3.5 years to 5 years. Our entire team is convinced that this will help create healthy, thriving churches. We are committed to creating a healthy, long-term fit between pastors and churches. That said, I think Iger is onto something when he suggests that there is a danger in being somewhere for too long.

Several years ago I sat with a small group of church planters listening to a well-known pastor share his thoughts on leading the church. The man had brought a group of interns from his church and as he shared his opinions on the right and wrong methodologies of leading a church he would make cutting, borderline inappropriate, comments about those who he felt were doing it wrong. As these comments were made, his interns would chuckle and egg him on. I remember walking away from that gathering feeling conflicted: there was a wisdom to some of the man’s thinking, but the arrogance and meanness left me questioning his fitness for the pastorate. It was obvious to me that there was no one around him who could pull him aside and challenge him to reconsider his actions.

The biggest danger of spiritual leadership is that we play a significant role in the development of the people that we lead. Because of this, we can be revered by those who surround us and inadvertently placed on a pedestal. The likelihood of this happening only increases the longer that we are in place. As this happens, people grow less and less likely to challenge our thinking, to suggest alternative courses of action, or to call us on our bad behavior. When this happens, the end of our church’s productive ministry begins.

The onus is on us, as ministry leaders, to surround ourselves with people who will push on us, challenge us, and take us to the woodshed from time to time. I am not suggesting that we surround ourselves with jerks, but with people who love us and the church that we lead and want nothing but the best for both. The courage and self-awareness that it takes to do this are rare, but are incredibly important for our health, and the health of the churches we lead.

Who do you have in your life that has the permission to challenge your thinking and call you on bad behavior?

matt

Matt Steen
Co-Founder | Chemistry Staffing
Matt.Steen@ChemistryStaffing.com


Persevere to Momentum

Imagine the power that is essential to achieve the first rotation with a locomotive that is sitting idle. Intense, dramatic, clanking steel, tons of fuel, teams of people, one goal in focus, plumes of smoke, unseen energy, and sheer grit. Creates movement!

I haven’t updated my experience at Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills(CCFH) in about a year. I’ve recently been asked by many people to share an update. This post is a brief update. (My brief may not be your brief!) 🙂

In February, 2017 I was given the task to take the drive mechanisms of CCFH and move it forward. At that moment the Church was simply at a standstill. Not right or wrong, good or bad, just factually still.

Someday I will write a full detail post of the hard-to-believe experiences I’ve had over the past two years that were necessary to get the rotation and movement going in this complex body of people called the Church. Today is not the blog to post the blood, sweat and tears stories that got us to get our first rotation of movement. Today is a blog to simply say that it is happening! Forward movement. Momentum. Action. Success. Perseverance paid off!

Today is simply a day to encourage you to persevere to momentum. You are facing something that is good and yet it is stuck. Whatever it is, use your head, heart, and gut…surrounded by wise counselors, prayer, and sheer grit to get your thing moving. It’ll test you like nothing else. It’ll make you want to quit…sometimes…every day…every 10 minutes. Depending on what you are facing…you may need to quit. If you need to quit…never quit on a bad day! But in all likelihood, you do not need to quit, you need dig in with grit and persevere with wisdom.

If you are in something stuck…the greatest reasons for the interrupted forward movement, are summed up in 2 C’s. Circumstances, and Critics.

Circumstances. This is usually difficult to mention because it tends to get personal towards the team who led in the past or whoever you are currently in a stuck situation with. But it shouldn’t be personal for the simple fact that times change. What used to be right and worked, doesn’t make it wrong today, it was right, back when it was applied. It’s just the wrong time now and is no longer working and moving. The best way to think about it is this…Nothing fails like success. In other words, when a challenge in life is met by great leadership that is right in their pursuit of accomplishing their goals…they have success! But, as in all things, the challenge changes, it moves to a higher level that the previous methods no longer meet. The old, one successful response no longer works–it fails; thus, nothing fails likes success. Every single one of us would do well to humbly admit this, and welcome the new challenge and new methods to meet those challenges.

When I arrived here at CCFH, I had previously been leading a Church that had more than 3000 people regularly attending our weekend services. I want to humbly and with gratitude inject, in Church world, that is like leading an NFL football team in football world. I came to CCFH and took on the leadership of a Church that had about 300 people regularly attending worship services. The average size Church in America is less than 100, so in sports terms, this new Church I took the lead with, was like leading a High School Football team. An NFL coach, stepping into a local High School Football program…when it comes to football knowledge…is a pretty easy shift. I knew what new things needed to be done to get CCFH moving once again. I also had wise counsel around me, Christ leading me, and the energy to do it. I’m grateful for my track record and experience, however it did not make this momentum shift any easier. Knowledge and getting knowledge done are very different things.

Whatever your circumstances are, depending on your past experience, and the energy level you have today, determines how you move forward. I warn you, DO NOT, try this on your own. You need to humbly allow others to invest in you and your decisions to get your cemented circumstances, free and moving! I’m writing this blog from a 20/20 hindsight perspective. Trust me…there were hundreds of days where I wanted to quit every 10 minutes and so many days where I thought I was going to fail. This feeling of failure was instigated continually by antagonistic critics. This is the second of the two C’s.

Critics. The other C word that will work tirelessly to keep you stuck. I could add yet another C word here… Control. Control is what the critic wants. In Church world, the biggest critic who wants control will do another C word. Cite. They continually cite the past. The “good ol days.”

First of all…There is no such thing as the good ol days. The good ol days simply means that something was working and momentum was happening and everybody except the negative Circumstances and Critics of the time enjoyed it. The good ol days are in the past. Everybody in your life knows that there is no influence that happens with the past. It is a memory to be cherished and that is that. Wisdom can be derived from it, but the past tends to be dangerous to the future. The past used to be right, but rarely is effective for today. (I could share countless examples of this, but I said I’d be brief)

Critics make critical errors when they verbally vomit their desire to control and use the past to cite their opinion. They are more committed to their view, than a you. A critic is right as they cite their past’s success. A critic is not wrong, they are stuck in the past and are perpetuating the stuck-ness of the current circumstances. They are guilty of prioritizing their view more than a you. In Church world, the YOU, must be Jesus and His desire. We all know that Jesus’s greatest desire is to reach the unreached person, and to represent Jesus’s very lifestyle. That is the you that must take priority over every persons view. (By view, I do not mean Biblical integrity…we can never compromise Biblical integrity for a you.) Most critics do not cite Biblical truth as their backbone for being a critic, they tend to cite history and their personal preferences. I personally believe that most critics love their views more than the You named Jesus. They won’t admit that, but their actions prove their priority of who’s views they choose. What do you do with your critics? Listen. Love. Be patient, but do not be pushed around as you stand your ground. Be like Jesus.

If something is stuck, the leadership’s views overrule you’s. If something is stuck, somebody is allowing a view that used to work, stay in place. The reason the leadership allows this, are the influence of the C’s + 1. Circumstances and Critics + low Energy levels = fruitlessness. Critics and downward trending Consequences are giant energy extractors. The longer someone leads and is confronted by the never ending critic and circumstances, the more worn down they become. Add years of this, and an aging leadership’s energy levels are depleted to a point where recovery simply takes too long for the organization to keep moving. Momentum stopped. When momentum stops, the energy that is essential to get that locomotive rolling again is just too great. When the leadership is tired and their views naturally overtake the you’s, the commodity gets stuck. The best solution is to bring in new and freshly energized leadership. If your marriage is stuck, or something smaller than an organization, then the new leadership you bring in, must be in the form of counselors, mentors, and accountability partners or straight up intervention groups.

This critical decision of bringing in the new, takes guts, and I hold all who make it, in high regard. My heart aches for the new person who takes the new roll of leadership of an organization of any kind…especially a Church. The new leadership views that are administered into a momentum-less organization are going to take a beating from the C’s. However, if the new leadership will persevere to momentum, it will succeed. Painfully.

I’m seeing it happen before my eyes. Over the past two years I seriously considered that I had lost my ability to lead well. I seriously thought that I had lost my touch. But, that is just was the C’s were saying. I kept my ears and eyes on the You of all you’s. Jesus. I surrounded myself with teammates who had the energy and expertise and the grit to persevere to momentum. It is working.

I believe with everything in me, that CCFH will someday be a Church that creates such momentum, that more than a 1000 people will call CCFH their home Church every weekend. In this size of town, that would be remarkable. Just last weekend, we experienced 20 brand new people in our Church. We don’t market or advertise…on purpose. These new people were invited. The laughter, joy, new growth, and just sheer fun is making all the C’s worth it. Discipleship is reignited, evangelism is strong, growth is on. Momentum!

The momentum has begun. We are just now in the second and third wheel rotation of the locomotive regaining momentum at CCFH. The fuel reserves are stockpiled, the leadership team is in place, and the momentum is starting to take on its own power. Once a locomotive starts moving… don’t do anything stupid to stop the momentum. Let it keep moving and just guide it from the steering wheel! Here’s what is good news…once momentum starts moving and success is being repeated…the C’s begin to diminish. They never go away…they just lose a ton of power against a locomotive that is moving. Its easy to rob a train when its stopped!

You too can get momentum going in whatever you are facing that is stuck. Check your energy levels. Know you’re circumstances. Know your critics. Surround yourself with wise advisors. Use your grit! It’s worth it. If I can personally assist you with anything, please contact me. I’ll do my best to help you, and if I cannot, I’ll connect you with someone who can.

If you are interested in the CCFH story. Stay tuned. The momentum is just getting started! I can’t wait for the next update. You know the sound of the steam locomotive that is ch-k-ch-k-ch-k-ingalong at a fast pace? If you imagine it, you’ll “hear” it in your head right now. That’s our aim. That’s your aim in every area of life. It doesn’t come easy, but if it is worth doing, it will never ever be easy. Grit on, my friend. You can do it. We got this!


Priority Check

I just got finished coaching a women’s High School Basketball game. Our girls literally got beat by 1 point from the opponents last second shot that went in with 2 seconds left in the game. Its one of the hardest losses I’ve ever experienced in my 35 out of 48 years of being heavily involved in competitive basketball.

In all those years, I have never blamed a loss on refs…until tonight. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like I was stuck in the Twilight Zone. I’ve never thought that somebody would pay the refs for a win, until tonight. I know the team that won didn’t pay the refs. That’s laughable…but I kid you not it seemed like it. For 3 of the 4 quarters our girls played 5 against 7 on that hardwood court. These two refs had to literally run out of the game at the buzzer, and were escorted out of the gym for protection. It was terrible. All around. The whole thing seemed like such an injustice. Anger was everywhere. Disappointment. Hurt. Screaming. Out of control.

It’s now a couple hours since the game ended. I got home and just couldn’t shake it. Frustrated to no end. Angry. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I did what I could only do. I went outside on this Saturday night, and went over my sermon notes for tomorrow’s message at Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills. As I began to pour over my notes, and think about what I was going to say, a greater emotion came over me and overruled my basketball emotion. I was instantly shaken back into “reality of priority.”

Oh, don’t get me wrong…women’s High School basketball matters. I believe it is great training for real world stuff and life. Teamwork, injustices, practice, hard work, playing against time, having critics and circumstances always fighting our trajectory of up and to the right in life, wins and losses. So tonight’s terrible results and circumstances in the game of basketball do matter…they do have a priority in life. I just talked to our lady athletes yesterday about how basketball and life are a lot alike. Here are my notes from that short talk.

As I started going through my sermon notes and watching the video testimonies we are going to watch at Church, I was settled down by a higher priority. My sermon for tomorrow…It was written by me, FOR ME. I’m still upset at the ridiculousness I experienced in tonight’s basketball game…but I can’t wait for tomorrow. There is no greater priority than the work we do in the lives of people. My sermon tomorrow is going to be freaking awesome for myself and so many others. I believe with everything in me, that people are going to have a lightbulb come on in their lives due to this message. They are going to be better because of the higher priority I am choosing to let motivate my attention and focus.

If you are like me, then you too have had things happen recently that have caused you to get your priorities out of order. If this is true for you, like it is for me, then I ask you to get into God’s Word, watch an inspirational video about life change, focus on Heaven and Hell. Think about the end of your life and then work backwards right to where you are as you read this. Everything in life matters…even basketball. But not everything is of the same value and priority. There will always be something/someone that causes our priorities to become imbalanced. Life is hard. Disappointment waits at every turn in your life. When this happens, I pray that you will practice extreme self discipline by pausing and hitting shuffle on your priority set. Take a deep breath. Don’t allow yourself to be the number one priority in your life. Feel your emotions. Acknowledge the emotions you are feeling. But be careful about obeying those emotions. They will not always tell you the truth…or at least the highest priority truth.

I can’t wait for tomorrow. I can’t wait to preach a message that I am fully confident is going to be a mile marker moment in many people’s lives. I pray that you have something in your life that helps you prioritize with truth and facts…not just emotions. If you don’t have anything in your life that will help you prioritize your life…I hope you will reach out to me and let me walk with you until you get your priorities in the right order. Its very difficult to keep your priorities in order on your own. Contact me. Let’s team together to restructure your priority list. My email address is trent.renner@christschurch.online.

Good God Almighty…I love the game of basketball. I hate what happened tonight. I’m so grateful I had something tonight to help me get prioritized in my thoughts, and help me get out of my feelings. What do you have in your life that can help you do the same? Getting our priorities ordered is arguably the most important thing in your life. Think about it. If I can help you, please ask. Seriously I’d be grateful. I’m finally, after 48 years of wins and losses, getting good at it.


Cut it out!

Have you ever been to someone’s yard and right there in the middle is a sickly tree?  Or been in a beautiful town and discover business’s dying?  Or in a beautiful town full of Churches that are on death’s edge because they are not seeking and saving the lost? Something needs cut, pruned, compeltely worked over! 

My experience is in Church-world. Pruning during stagnation is the most needed Christ-like practice for a church that is stuck in a rut.  (A rut and a grave are the same thing…just 6 feet apart.)

Think about it…when is the last time you saw a Church going through 40 days of pruning?  We have 40 days of prayer, fasting, evangelism, worship, Bible reading…but I’m not sure I’ve seen a Church have 40 days of pruning, when needed.  Jesus is a pruner!

All through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…(the 4 most critical chapters of the bible)…when Jesus saw the crowd, around Him, begin to lose His focus…He pruned the crowd.  He went so far, one time, to say to the huge crowd that had misunderstood His Mission,…“If you don’t eat my flesh and drink my blood, you can’t be my disciple.” (John 6:53) The whole crowd, of what had to be more than a thousand people, left Him.  There were only the 12 disciples left.  That’s pruning!

Jesus pruned the pharisees and religious leaders that only wanted to control the people and keep things the way they had always done it…Jesus called them, “White-Washed Tombs (Matthew 23:17), Blind Guides (Matthew 23:16) Hypocrites (Matthew 23:15), Children of Hell (Matthew 23:15), fools (Matthew 23:17), generation of serpents (Matthew 23:34), and murderers (Matthew 23:34).

So Jesus pruned regularly.  To be clear…when pruning, we can never react in anger out of control, or be evil in anyway. We cannot ever justify unholy behavior by saying Jesus did it.  He was perfect in His pruning.  However we can prune with holiness just like Jesus did.  It won’t make you popular, but it will make you like Jesus.

Why don’t more leaders prune when it is desperately obvious it is needed? I can only resort to a Bible verse to explain…

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

Pruning results in a vigorous burst of new growth in the future, and pruning is to be used to achieve the full growth that is necessary…especially in the Church.   More money thrown at the problem, or stored in the savings account won’t cause the Church to be healthy again. Just letting it continue as is, will not cause the Church to be fruitful again.  I can’t think of anything more tragic than a Church that is stuck and dying.  Pruning is what is needed.  Its not fun.  Its not easy, but it’s essential.  Pruning, in Church world, will remove the unfruitful and the spiritually dead.  The death that is about to overtake the whole “tree,” could be something as simple as the comfortable…but it’s especially the fakers, the slackers, hypocrites, the control mongers, or the powers that exist that actually have been lulled into the sleepy deception of thinking their tree is beautiful.  They are the blockers and death dealers.

The “tree” may “bleed” when the removal begins. It may look like…after the pruning…that the tree won’t survive…that is has been ruined.  But it’s exactly what it needed…it’ll survive because Jesus will know the motives of the pruning and bless it.  It only seems harmful at the cutting, and until it grows again..it’ll be a bit scary.  Those being pruned will not be cut quietly. They will gossip and spread false rumors and only verify the reality of the necessity of the pruning in the first place.  Prune anyway! And it will leaf out when its God’s time! It will grow into a full grown, strong, thriving life once again. Beautiful!  Jesus and any leadership that has the guts and perseverance to do the pruning will reap the rewards and once again see the Church be healthy and productive in the most important fruit production area…seeking and saving the lost.

The Kingdom of Jesus cannot and will not stop at anything that tries to prevent it’s growth. It cannot and should not ever be stunted.  Jesus did say about the Church…“I will build my Church and the gates of hades will not prevail!” (MT16:18) So…if the Church is dying…something is seriously wrong. Right!?  So, Jesus said it best…with crystal clarity…

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.”
John‬ ‭15:1-8‬ ‭

So, courageous people of God…prune away.  In Church world, the only thing that is preventing the pruning from happening is leadership.  Courageous leadership.  I love the local Church so much that I will prune anytime, anywhere, any way.  It is what Jesus demands of holy leadership.  If I don’t prune…I will stand in front of Jesus someday and be pruned for eternity.  I don’t want to go to hell. You don’t either.  Prune or Be Pruned!

We are mandated to produce fruit. It is a salvation issue and eternity is in the balance.

Don’t screw with Jesus’s mission.  There is no mercy in pruning…Just judgement.  The only way to avoid eternal judgement and pruning is to make sure you are producing fruit.  The most important fruit in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is seeking and saving the lost.  Every single member in the Church must be producing fruit.  It is Jesus’s mandate.

When is the last time you personally led somebody into Jesus’s forgiveness?

It is why you were born, and it is your life’s purpose… to be productive in the Kingdom of Jesus.

Last thing…what is the best strategy to begin pruning in a Church that has been in status quo mode…aka…death mode?  Cast a vision that leads the Church to get back into the mandates of Jesus.  Cast a vision to risk for Jesus in evangelism.  The pruning will happen naturally.

Strong Spiritual Leadership rarely has to strategically prune, because a fruitful-risk-taking-vision, cast with holy leadership strength, will naturally and steadily get rid of the wrong people.  Yes…I said it…get rid of the wrong people.  Hold on…You didn’t think pruning in the Church was about gardening did you?  Its about people.


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