Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Effective Service and Powerful Adversaries

...for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (1 Corinthians 16:9 NASB)

Paul told the Corinthians that he would stay in Ephesus until after Pentecost (May) because a great door had been open for "effective" service even though there were many or great adversaries. If you read the history of Paul's time in Ephesus you will find that it was VERY difficult. He was in a stadium where everyone was shouting louder than he could talk, "Great is Diana our goddess (paraphrased)." He was beat in Ephesus. This was physically. Even though he seemed to face rejection and physical harm, he stayed. Why? That's the worst church planting or ministry deal ever!

He had "effective" service. Paul was seeing people come to Christ despite them losing everything. Despite the loss, they were in love with following Christ. Everything centered around Diana or Artemas in Ephesus. Your job, your friends and religious upbringing. They lost it ALL. He was seeing "effective" service.

I believe the key to overcoming "adversaries" is seeing "effectiveness." If someone is able to see progress and effectiveness they will be able to withstand adversaries as well.

So, look at this for a moment. Where does your greatest frustration lie? I bet it is not fundamentally in your adversary, but in the lack of effectiveness in accomplishing your mission. Adversaries look bigger and more intimidating when effectiveness of mission is lacking.

Focus on:
What excites and motivates you?
What drains you emotionally?
Why are you discouraged or depressed right now? What is the root cause?
What do you need to see happen in the next 3 months that would bring a "spark" to your organization?
Where will you start hunting for new ideas?

The key to finding effectiveness, if you are stuck, is embracing empirically tested ideas that can help you fulfill your mission. When I survey pastors, and leaders in the church world (that's where I work), their frustration doesn't come from a lack of prayer or Bible Study, but rather ideas that can help them become effective.

I spoke with a friend recently that was excited to help a pastor set up a "tent revival." I am not saying that is bad. Hear me. What I am saying is that we are in the 21st century and that was a great idea 60 years ago. With over 3,000 doors of churches shutting each month, is that the best idea? My point is this: We can't live off ideas from 60 years ago to succeed. No business would do that. Why would people who serve the Living God do that? Effective service is the key. Ask the question, "Is this the BEST way available to us to accomplish our mission or are we regurgitating ideas from the past in an effort to try to be effective?"

Pray that God would help you see the REAL, Kingdom impact you are making now and that He would lead you to the right resources to help you become more effective in your mission. Adversaries look a lot smaller with the effective service happening.

RESOURCE OF THE MONTH: "Right Message, Wrong Method," by Craig Walker of

Full if great ideas for church leaders