habits

To replicate means “to make a copy of; to reproduce.” When used in the context of the Christian mission, replication carries with it the expectation of making disciples.

This is the fourth and final article in a series about the habits of spiritually healthy pastors. In the previous articles, I addressed the worship habitslearning habits, and serving habits of spiritually healthy pastors.

When we worship, learn, serve, and replicate, we embrace the mission of Christ to become his followers in action and attitude. 

While worshiping, learning, and serving should be personal habits and community experiences, we must guard against them becoming merely church activities. We have plenty of church activities. 

What we need more than activity is to make sure we’re replicating the life of Jesus into another person. The following three habits build discipleship into our daily decision-making. 

HABIT #1: SHARE THE GOSPEL PERSONALLY. 

No doubt, most of us share the gospel regularly in our preaching. We must do this. In fact, during these days of streaming church services, we may be communicating the gospel to more people than would ever visit our church. 

But public preaching doesn’t take the place of personal witnessing. Paul instructed Timothy, “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). Personal evangelism is work, but it’s a necessary habit for the pastor/church leader. 

Opportunities and relationships are the keys to sharing the gospel regularly. As pastors, we need to create opportunities for witnessing by getting into our communities and around unbelievers. 

Volunteering at local ministries and non-profits, coaching a kids’ sports team, and contacting visitors to your church will provide numerous opportunities for sharing the gospel. 

When those opportunities arise, we must be willing to engage the work of building relationships and continuing gospel conversations. 

A husband and wife who became followers of Jesus last year in our community did so after several years of relationship and numerous gospel conversations. 

These days of social distancing provide obstacles to face-to-face witnessing, but also many opportunities. 

In just the last three weeks, I’ve had several gospel conversations with those in and around my church who needed counseling, support, and ministry. 

Simply put, we as pastors need to look to include the gospel in as many conversations as we can. 

HABIT #2: INVOLVE OTHERS IN YOUR MISSION CONSISTENTLY. 

In Acts 11:25-26, Barnabas sought out Saul (the Apostle Paul) and brought him to Antioch to help him teach the young church there. Barnabas realized the job in front of him was bigger than he could handle on his own. 

We need to be big enough to admit we’re not big enough on our own. For us to fulfill the mandate of making disciples, we can’t go at it alone. 

Whether we have a church staff or we’re the entire staff, we must engage in the regular habit of involving others in our ministries. 

None of us are irreplaceable, and none of us are permanent. 

By involving others in our mission and ministries, we can replicate the life of Jesus and the ministry of the church in the lives of others who’ll carry on making disciples even when we’re no longer around. 

Practically, this means sharing responsibilities and inviting people to do ministry alongside you. 

HABIT #3: EQUIP OTHERS TO SUCCEED YOU SIGNIFICANTLY. 

Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19-20 is to make disciples. He expected His followers to lead others to follow Him. 

Jesus’ method of disciple-making wasn’t large events. It wasn’t come and see worship experiences. It wasn’t seminars and leadership conferences. It wasn’t even miracles. 

Jesus’ method was the training of the apostles who’d preach and teach the gospel and disciple others. 

Friends, we’re the product of Jesus’ method. Jesus spent only three years in personal ministry but has had an impact for 2,000 years through His disciples. 

The beauty of Jesus’ method is that it’s reproducible. There’s coming a day when you won’t be the pastor, staff member, or disciple-maker at your church. Have you prepared for someone to succeed you? 

Even if you don’t train your successor per se, when we equip and disciple others, we embrace Jesus’ method. 

If you know of ways pastors and churches are embracing the challenges of social distancing and continuing to make disciples, I’d love to hear about them.

Originally published at here Lifeway Facts and Trends.

This is the 1st of a 4 part series on Habits for Spiritually Healthy Pastors.

I have quite a few habits I observe every day. For example, after dinner each night, I find a sweet treat, usually Oreos and milk, to finish dinner.

In the mornings, I make a pot of coffee and drink at least a cup each day. Also, in the mornings, I make time to read the Bible and pray. 

You have habits as well. Habits (good or bad) form who we are. Have you considered what your habits say about you?

Someone once said, “Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.” 

We’re the product of our regular habits. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg suggests that habits have a cycle of routine, habit, and reward. 

In other words, we do out of habit, because we experience a benefit or reward from it. Our habits say a lot about us. So, what do your worship habits say about you?

Last fall, I preached a sermon series entitled “Habits of Healthy Church Members.” The series highlighted habits that reflect our church mission.

At Wilkesboro Baptist, our mission is to lead our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus by worshiping, learning, serving, and replicating. We noted three habits for each step in our church’s mission. 

In today’s article, I’m recommending three worship habits for spiritually healthy pastors. 

HABIT #1—HUMBLY PREPARE FOR WORSHIP.

One of my fellow pastors refers to the “unrelenting tyranny of the Sunday” regarding the regularity of sermon preparation and delivery.

If you’re anything like me, you have study and preparation routines throughout the week to make sure you’re ready for each Sunday.

It’s all too easy, however, to get so caught up in the reading, writing, and sermon preparation that I neglect prayer and personal application.

If you want to be spiritually healthy as a pastor, remember your need to prepare humbly. Build prayer and confession time into your office schedule and sermon preparation.

If God doesn’t draw hearts, there won’t be any lasting fruit, regardless of your skill, preparation, giftedness, and delivery.

HABIT #2—INTENTIONALLY ENGAGE IN WORSHIP. 

I know, you’re reading this and thinking, “How can I be more engaged? I’m preaching.” Well, what about the other aspects of worship? 

Are you singing with the congregation? Are you listening to the other portions of the service? Are you engaged by focusing on God, or distracted trying to remember the points of your sermon? 

Pastor, you’re the lead worshiper in your church. If you don’t sing, engage, and connect with the worship aspects in your services, how can you expect your congregation to participate? 

Finish sermon preparation before entering your sanctuary or worship center. Be engaged as you worship. Worship isn’t merely an activity to attend; it’s an attitude to reflect. 

You and your congregation will benefit greatly. More importantly, you’ll honor God with your worshipful engagement.

HABIT #3—GIVE GENEROUSLY AS WORSHIP. 

I have no idea how many pastors give a tithe or more than a tithe. But I know and believe this: pastors are the leaders in their congregations. 

If they’re not generous, how can they ask for generosity of others? Before you balk and say, “But you don’t know how much I make. It’s barely enough to make it each week,” stop and ask yourself: 

“Has God ever failed to meet my need?” In my life, the answer is a resounding, “No.” 

Trust God and give generously. He’ll provide. Trust God and give forgetfully. It only matters to God what you give. Don’t focus on it, and certainly don’t broadcast it.

Giving generously will remind you you’re part of the congregation you serve. It’ll create an attitude of investment and healthy ownership in your church community. It’ll also make you more like Christ. 

Simple habits, right? Maybe simple, but profound in their influence. 

In the next several months, I’ll post about the healthy habits of pastors in their learning, serving, and replicating. I know these aren’t exhaustive; they’re basic. 

But basic habits lived out regularly develop us into growing and fruitful followers of Jesus. What are some other worship habits we should adopt? I’d love to hear from you. 

Originally posted here at LifeWay Facts and Trends.