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Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned

Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor

James 3:1(NKJV) - My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

Aaahh church life. There's nothing like it. I turned 36 on Sunday, December 5th and can't help but reminisce on 36 years and 9 months of life in the church. That's right. I didn't just grow up in church. I was in there before I was even born. So over the years I've seen all kinds of interesting things within the hallowed halls of the church building.

However, none of those experiences could have prepared me for the experience I've received in the last two years since starting The Body Church in Atlanta with my wife, Angel. Thankfully, The Lord has been with us throughout the entire process and now you can too. In this new blog series we will share the valuable lessons we have been learning throughout this journey starting with the top twelve.

Top Twelve Lessons Learned From Starting A Church

1) Some people are with you until you correct or offend them.

2) Some people need to hear from The Lord to join your church but don't need to hear from The Lord to leave.

3) If you're starting from the ground up and your only example of church is a mega-church you will get your feelings hurt.

4) You know more about being a pastor when you're not an actual pastor.

5) When people act "over the top" eager about your church when they first show up, don't assume they'll stay long or even show up again.

6) There's a strong correlation between the consistency of people's giving and their commitment to your ministry.

7) If you don't take personal responsibility for the success of your ministry, do not expect anyone else to do so.

8) Some people will think your ministry is awesome, just for someone else.

9) If you're not sure that The Lord called you to be a pastor, quit now because you'll eventually do it anyway.

10) The easiest part of being a pastor is preaching. If that's all you want to do, preach on the street. It's less stressful.

11) Be careful who you trust. You will be shocked at who might be smiling in your face and talking behind your back.

12) Many people choose a church for what they can get from the church instead of what they can give.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is just the beginning. We are going to address each of these top twelve in detail in the coming weeks and you are going to love it. Why? Because you know it's the truth and it's about time that someone said it. Let's start with Lesson 1 today.

1) Some people are with you until you correct or offend them.

John 6:60-69(NLT) - Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God. ”

When Jesus taught parables, worked miracles, kissed babies, showed mercy to sinners and challenged the religious elite, He was popular. People were excited to be His followers and they believed He was The Messiah. They loved to eat the bread and fish that He multiplied. They lined up to receive their healing. They sat at His feet and loved every Word He said. He was everything they dreamed of. That was, until He offended them. Then all but the twelve disciples left Him because they could not accept what He had to say.

How do we know they left Jesus because they were offended? That's what Jesus said. "Does this offend you?" He asked. As a young pastor, I learned this lesson early and often. Some people are with you until you say something that offends them and instead of seeking to understand what you said or why you said it, they just leave. What's unfortunate is that the disciples who left Jesus let offense rob them of words that were Spirit and Life. That was their loss.

When Jesus noticed that those other disciples were becoming offended He shared some words of wisdom that should inform all of us.

a) If those simple words offended them, they could expect to be offended even more in the future.

b) Those were not merely human words, those were the life giving, spirit-filled Words of God and some still would not believe.

c) The deserters were free to go because the only people who were meant to be with Jesus were the ones assigned to Him by The Father.

What does that mean for us?

a) If people are offended by something we say today, don't think this will be the only time those people would be offended. You will be like a dog chasing his tail if you try to avoid offending them in the future.

b) Even when you give people The Word of God that doesn't mean they will believe it.

c) When people leave as a result of offense let them go. The only people meant to be with you are the people God assigns to you anyway.

Now pay close attention to the response Jesus received from The Twelve Disciples when He asked if they too would desert Him. Peter stood up and said three things;

a) To whom shall we go.

b) You have the Words of Life.

c) We know that You are The One God sent.

What does that mean to us?

a) People who belong to your church know that they are supposed to be there and can't go anywhere else. They understand that God sent them there and they can't just walk away when they are offended by The Word of God that you deliver. On the other hand, those people who believe they have options should go now because they are not called by God to be with you and will probably eventually leave anyway.

b) People who are supposed to be with you know the value of what you're saying. They can tell it's The Word of God and accept it as it is. They understand that you won't say anything that God didn't put on your heart. People who don't belong to your church think your messages are your opinion and everyone's entitled to their own.

c) People who belong to your church know that you are sent by God. They can recognize the anointing on your life and won't miss out on what God has for them through that anointing. People who can easily walk away have no idea who you are so they should go.

What's the bottom line?

i) Always preach like God Himself is speaking. Leave personal opinions for politicians.

1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) - God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

ii) Expect some people to get offended when you preach because some Christians want to pick and choose what they hear at church.

II Timothy 4:1-5(NKJV) - I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

iii) People who are really called by God to be with you will receive The Word of God from you like God Himself came into The Church and said it.

1 Thessalonians 2:13(NLT) - Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.

That's all for today. See you next time for Point 2.

2) Some people need to hear from The Lord to join your church but don't need to hear from The Lord to leave.

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