Posted: 27 March 2007
Observations of my call
My call to the Office of the Bishop is unique. Not unique in that it is more called of God than any other, but that its focus was mandated differently that I have seen before. In this era of "mega" churches, I was apprehensive because unlike many others called into the bishopric, I did not have a "mega" anything. I was consecrated February 28, 2004 as a bishop in the Fellowship of Christ International Church under the leadership of Bishop Dr. P. Bradley Carey. Even then, the apprehension of doing something really great was intimidating to me.
I asked the Lord to help me understand why a pastor of a small, but growing church, would need to be used when so many others had more physical and financial resources where I was so limited. The answer was given with resounding clarity - that's why!*****
I have always had a heart to please God in my ministry, but mistakenly judged the success of my ministry on how others with perceived success were judged. They had grand cathedrals of worship, tens of thousands of people in weekly attendance, large staffs, and national names. I had none of these things. God has taught me that the gauges of success are not defined by those things, but by obedience to His will.
I don't want you to misunderstand my words. I am not saying that those ministries which possessed those things were not successful, but what made them successful were not those things. I have made many mistakes trying to emulate other people, hoping to get the same results they have had, but God had to make it clear that my mission, my call, to His people would not be defined by being someone else, but by being there for the people others took for granted. Again, I want to make clear, it is not my intention to imply that you can not learn of gain very positive things from people who have traveled a course you are now embarking on, just that their course was not the right course for me.
The trend I have seen by those elevated to the Office of the Bishop has been:
The Problems and opportunities of the small church
I am reminded of a story found in the book of Matthew 14:13-21. To set up the analogy, we really need to look at the story at face value. The premise is this: there were a large number of people who needed to be feed. They had limited physical and financial resources to meet the needs of their audience as well as limited food. The scripture says starting in verse 15, "As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food." What we have is the classic scenario of a small ministry. We see the needs of the masses, but feel helpless to impact the need.
Most of the time, the problem in any church is not the desire to do more, just the ability to do more. Faced with a need so enormous to the disciples as trying to feed the multitude, they request Jesus to send the people away. I believe that they were not being ugly or even being unwilling. The just knew they were helpless. With the enormity of this mandate, many of you will ask the question how? So often, and by nature, as we assess what each of us can do for each other, our assessments leave us feeling incapable. I have said it and I am sure you have. If I could, I would! Notice, however, Jesus' response in verse 16, "Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." In other words, YOU FEED THEM! Ideally the point Jesus was trying to get across was that you have to use what you have because you don't have to have a lot to do a lot. There is an old saying, which in substantiated in verses 17-21, "Little becomes much when you place it in the Master's hands."
I understand both the Heart and the Hurt of a small ministry. Only now though, do I understand the Hour of the small ministry. The bible teaches us that in the last days that many will turn from sound doctrine. I believe that the hour of the small church is at hand to be the remnant of those who will believe and stay.