IX. Emphasize What God Has Done for us, Not
What We Can Do for God.
(see Rom 8)
Grace, the unmerited favor of God towards
those who deserve the opposite, is the heart of the Gospel.
It is grace we must teach, and grace we must live in the ministry.
So many pastors continually emphasize what the people need
to do for God--give more money, pray more, study more, volunteer
more. The genius of Pastor Chuck's ministry is to emphasize
rather what God has already done for us; Jesus loves us, He
died for us, He rose from the grave, He ascended to the right
hand of the Father where He ever lives to make intercession
for us, He prays for us daily, His thoughts toward us are
continually thoughts of blessing and love, He has forgiven
us all our sins, He is always with us to help and guide, He
has empowered us with His Holy Spirit, He is preparing an
eternal abode for us.
Teach the people what God has already done for them, and their
hearts will overflow in love and gratitude; gratitude that
will manifest itself in loving service and devoted prayer.
Lead your people past yourself and into the arms of Jesus.
They need Him, not you. At one point in my ministry, I got
overwhelmed with a huge counseling load; then I realized I
was training the people to rely on me, rather than the Lord.
I repented of the sin, and started to emphasize His loving
grace, letting them see Jesus clearly.
Seeing Jesus clearly should be the goal of every service,
every study, every gathering. Our goal at Calvary Chapel Bible
College is for every man and woman to know Jesus better when
they finish than they did when they started. Our goal for
the Conference Center is for every person who attends a retreat
here to know Jesus better when they leave this mountain than
they did when they came up. We want every student, every retreater,
every room renter, every staff person, every visitor, to see
Jesus clearly shining through us, to know His love and grace,
and to get to know Him better.
Emphasize what God has done for us, not what we can do for
X. Feed, Don't Beat, the Sheep
(see John 21:15-19)
When I was a young pastor, I used to think
Jesus said "Peter if you love Me, beat my sheep". And I did
a good job. I rebuked everything and everybody from the pulpit
with the fire of an Old Testament prophet. And the people
loved it. They were so used to being beat up on that they
thought they weren't spiritual if they left church feeling
any way but miserable.'
Moses was not allowed by God to enter the promised land because
he misrepresented the Lord. He gave the people the impression
God was mad at them when He wasn't. Moses beat the rock in
anger, and therefore, never tasted a grape in Canaan.
We must be very careful not to misrepresent God. He's not
mad at these folks, and if we are, we need to get back in
touch with the Lord.
Feed God's people. Teach them the Word of God. Speak the truth
in love. Share the pure Word of God in love.
As a young pastor, I would often preach at those who weren't
there. If four people showed up for a mid-week service, I'd
rant and rave (with plenty of proof texts) about diligence
and commitment. I was talking to the ones who weren't there,
not to the four faithful sheep who were. Pastor Chuck taught
me to forget about who's not there and lovingly feed those
who are. It was then that the ministry started to grow.
Guard your heart, watch your motive. The only legitimate motive
is love. That is why we teach, that is why we preach, that
is why we worship, that is why we serve.
If you love Jesus, feed His sheep. [John 21:15-17]
XI. Present the Word of God in a Loving, Relaxed,
(see John 15 and Jer. 3:15)
I grew up hearing preachers that either put
me to sleep or yelled at me. They put me to sleep because
their messages were not relevant to my life. They yelled at
me and fed my guilt without showing me the love and freedom
"Line upon line" is the way God speaks to His people. Topical
sermons are a scattered diet. Sheep don't grow well on topical
sermons. Pastor Chuck has taught us to feed the sheep--to
teach line upon line, verse by verse through the books of
the Bible. Doing so keeps us balanced. We don't get off on
pet doctrines, we cover the whole counsel of God. The people
get fed. They grow. They produce fruit for God's glory. God
is seeking for pastors who will feed His people, who will
teach them verse by verse and stick to what the Bible actually
says without adding to it.
Stay current on political affairs. Keep the studies relevant.
Scatter throughout your Bible studies information on prophecy,
the political climate, social problems, evidence for creation,
etc. Read magazines and newspapers, be informed. [I am going
to add a quote from a biography about John Wesley that is
appropriate here. "At Leeds in 1766 Wesley was careful to
impress upon his preachers the necessity of possessing a book-shelved
mind, and entered in the minutes, "Read five hours in twenty-four...'
'But I have no taste for reading.' 'Contact a taste for it
by use or return to your trade.' John was trying to make certain
there were to be no preachers the feet of whose minds paced
across their sermons with a leaden step..." Now I have no
idea whether John Wesley meant five hours a day in purely
secular reading or a combination of secular and Bible study,
probably the latter. But his point is clear.]
Present the Word of God in a relaxed manner where anyone will
feel welcome, even those from different church backgrounds
or varying ages. It's no secret why so many of us hippies
wound up at Calvary Chapel--it was the only place that accepted
us just as we were. They accepted us and we accepted Jesus.
Someone recently wrote me a letter saying that they thought
it a shame that Calvary had lowered its standards to let me
in. Praise God, this ministry is still lowering its standards
to let sinners saved by grace of all kinds in.
While we believe in the informality of worship, it is equally
important to keep our services respectful, to do things decently
and in order, and with dignity. Depending on the community
to which you live, that may even mean wearing a suit and tie
on Sunday morning (Chuck does).