Today, my pastor retired. He preached his last sermon as a Senior Pastor after 26 years serving in that role in the same church. He ended well - he is not leaving due to strife, disunity, or church discord. It is just time for him to move on to something new that God is doing in his life.
As I listened to him give us a final message this morning, I was struck by 3 things:
*It is because of this man’s ministry to my church that I came to a deeper understanding of God’s grace. He has taught me to understand and articulate a clear Gospel message. He has taught me to protect Truth.
*It is because of this man’s impact on my life that my ministry is where it is today. He gave me a chance to offer something untried in our midst - to begin a Biblical Counseling ministry. It quickly became fruitful and even when it became its own entity separate from the church, I was always able to go to him as a ministry partner.
*It is because of this man’s legacy at my church that I see the need to keep a very loose grip on my counseling ministry. It is not “mine” - it is God’s to use as He sees fit, long beyond my years, Lord willing. Ministry should multiply. In other words, it should be able to carry on long past my lifespan. My pastor has left the church physically, but his legacy will remain there forever. Because he poured in to the lives of people there by teaching us and shepherding us, his ministry is multiplying. If we all are mindful that our ministries should multiply, too, the legacy will remain through the generations until heaven.
We will miss our pastor. Things are changing, and we do not know who will fill our Senior Pastor position. But the Gospel remains, and God never changes. In today’s final sermon, he reminded us that we have “hope and strength in the storm.” We are going to be okay. Why? Because our pastor’s ministry has multiplied.
I’m not talking about multiplying programs. It’s about multiplying DISCIPLES.
God’s Word is clear on the concept of Ministry Multiplication. The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:3i7-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) aren’t possible unless we love God, love others, serve all, and make disciples who do the same.
What legacy are you leaving? Will it exist long past your lifespan? If it is Gospel-centered, Truth-filled, and selfless, it will. If it is self-focused, it will wither and fade and it is quite possible that no one in the next generations will know that you existed because you left nothing behind worth keeping.
What I have learned from my pastor is worth keeping. His ministry to me pours out in to my ministry to others. I hope that my ministry to others will pour out of them in to the lives that God allows in their spheres of influence.
My pastor has articulated the Great Commandment and Great Commission well in his ministry, and this is why it has….and will continue….to multiply. I hope and pray mine will do the same.
Thank you, Pastor Steve, for passing on a lasting legacy. You will be missed, and we will be okay.
Mentoring in the Local Church (an excerpt from "Biblical Mentoring, Life On Life" by Ellen Castillo)
The church is called the “pillar and support of the truth” by Paul. The truth of God's Word has been preserved and disseminated throughout the ages by the church. All people desiring to grow in the knowledge of the truth and to learn more about God should find a local church that honors and teaches the Bible and begin to benefit from the teaching ministry which is offered there for them by God.
“Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14-15)
Life On Life, One-Another ministry is often best done in the context of your local church. If we take an honest look at our churches in our lifetime, we have to admit that we have often neglected to care for the souls of our church family in this context.
The apostle Paul explained that the church was the “body of Christ” with Jesus as its “head.”
“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)
Paul’s description emphasizes the relationship that each believer and the local church has to Jesus. Since the church is a living organism consisting of people who believe in and follow their Savior Jesus Christ, they are under His rule, and He works through them. Anyone wanting to draw closer to Jesus and experience His working in their lives will greatly benefit from coming into association with a local body of believers.
God’s Word instructs believers not to neglect getting together with other believers. Our purpose as One-Another ministers is to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, both within our churches and in our spheres of influence outside the church. Without the local church to edify, encourage, and equip believers, this purpose cannot be fulfilled.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)
One-Another ministry is the healthiest when done in the context of the local church whenever possible. You might have many other One-Another relationships outside of your local church body as well, but we are dealing primarily with the type of One- Another ministry in a local church that provides for the “soulcare” of individuals.
What do we mean by soulcare? It is not a new concept. It was established in the New Testament church in Acts 2.
Acts 2:42-47 “42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
The care that believers had for one another in Acts 2 has continued in various forms through the years. It can be defined as “believers speaking the Truth in love anchored in the Word of God, depending on the Holy Spirit.” In our culture, it is called by many names such as:
*Discipling *Mentoring *Teaching *Biblical Counseling *Pastoral Counseling *Spiritual Guidance *Spiritual Formation *Friendship *Spiritual Friendship
A church with a culture of soulcare will bear much fruit. Whatever form the church’s One-Another ministry takes, it must be rooted in God’s Word, exalt Jesus Christ, be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and be loving. Soulcare ministry aims to produce salvation, sanctification, and Spiritual fruit. This is achieved through admonishment, teaching, exhortation, encouragement, comfort, and forbearance.
All believers need soulcare, not just those who are struggling. We all need One-Another ministry in various forms. We do have a tendency in our churches today to neglect the hurting believer. Hurting individuals should be taken care of primarily by the local church, but are often referred out to secular sources of help that will not provide true soulcare. Those sources can have some benefit for learning some behavior management that brings some relief, but they will not provide what we see in our definition of soulcare — “speaking the Truth in love anchored in the Word of God, depending on the Holy Spirit.”
For a believer to have lasting change and hope, she must be helped with some form of soulcare, preferably within her local church. The next best choice would be help from a local Biblically-based counseling ministry. Biblical Counselors are glad to provide counseling to those who come to them from other churches, but all of them would agree that the best scenario would be that local churches become well equipped to counsel, disciple, mentor, teach, and befriend their own church family.
Please realize that there is occasionally an appropriate time for someone to seek Biblical help outside of their local church. If someone’s problems are serious enough that they are seeking counseling, the only option may be an outside Biblical Counselor who can help for a season. The counselor’s goal will be to return the woman to her local church for further discipleship once the counseling has ended. If a person is in need of medical assistance or medication, that has to be addressed by a licensed professional. Even if that is the case, she will need good One-Another relationships in her church family as she undergoes whatever kind of treatment she and her doctor choose.
Let’s caution against creating an environment in our churches where all we talk about are our struggles and problems, but let’s also provide opportunities for hurting people (aren’t we all hurting at some time or other?) to get the soulcare they need, through excellent One-Another relationships.
Paul explains that gifted people have been given to the church in order to bring believers to a place of fruitfulness in service and maturity.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
To learn more about mentoring in the local church and to become equipped for one-another ministry in your own local church, please look at the resources available for you at www.biblicalmentor.com.
You will soon be able to purchase the book "Biblical Mentoring, Life On Life" on our website...coming soon!
The Gospel in Mentoring: an excerpt from "Biblical Mentoring, Life On Life", our brand new book coming out soon!
The following is an excerpt from “Biblical Mentoring, Life On Life” by Ellen Castillo. This book is soon to be published and available at www.biblicalmentor.com.
The Gospel in Mentoring
The Gospel has to be our starting point for all One-Another ministry. The implication in the One-Anothers is that we are to do life with other believers, Life On Life. Of course, we also do life with nonbelievers, but the One-Anothers emphasize the role we play in each other’s lives, believer to believer.
If you are in a relationship with a woman or girl that God has placed in your life and she has understood a clear Gospel and is a Christian, you have a very good starting point for One-Another life together. If you are not sure she understands a clear Gospel, you have an opportunity to share it! How often have you asked a new friend (or old one for that matter) what they think the Gospel is and how it applies to their life? We can’t miss this! It’s not only our starting point for Life On Life, but it is the ending point and everything in the middle, too.
The Gospel is for salvation. It is also to be applied to our lives from that point on. It is not to be applied in the sense that your salvation depends on performing a certain way or upholding a certain standard of perfection. It is to be applied in the sense that you know it, understand it, can explain it, and BELIEVE it. In the process of living life, the Gospel applied has the potential to either gradually or immediately change how you behave, how you relate to people, how you make decisions, how you view people, how you view yourself, and everything else about how you live.
Often women are intimidated about talking about the Gospel. Let’s start by being honest about this in our own lives and ask God to help us to be able to explain a clear Gospel and to understand it and apply it to our own lives before we can help someone else.
What makes many women so weak in this area? Is it fear? Lack of understanding? Maybe they are not sure they can articulate it clearly. Maybe they are afraid they will say something wrong. Sometimes they are afraid that they won’t be able to back up what they say from Scripture, forgetting where to find the verses. There are many reasons that could be added to this list. In a One-Another situation, one of the very best ways you can share the Gospel is to share your own story of salvation. You can talk about what your life was like before you came to know Christ and what was happening when you first came to belief. You can talk about your understanding of the Gospel, and how it transformed you upon salvation and how it continues to transform you now. Sometimes, our own stories speak more clearly than going through a formulated “Gospel presentation.”
There is an account in the Bible about a woman that you are probably familiar with and how Jesus shared the Gospel message with her. The story of the woman at the well is found in John 4:7-26.
Please read John 4:7-26 in your Bible, then come back here to see what we can glean from this account.
Jesus did not use a “formula” to share the Gospel with the woman. In this passage, we can take note of some ways to share a clear Gospel and to be sure it is understood:
* Jesus met the woman when she was alone. Often, people will be more honest if nobody else is listening.
* Jesus began with her immediate need — not spiritual, but tangible (v. 7). Because she was not a believer, she could not discern spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Therefore, He spoke about something she could relate to — water. We can approach people in the same manner of developing conversation. If we are not certain they are a believer, we can make them more comfortable by starting with tangible conversations.
* Jesus, after establishing tangible conversation, turned to the spiritual (v. 10). He simply talked of the things of God. The questions we ask could help us to see if the person understands what being a Christian means. We could ask “Are you involved in church?” or even “Do you love God?” We could then move on to asking about her salvation testimony and asking what her walk with The Lord is currently like. For us, this can take courage.
* If this conversation reveals that the person does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then you can follow Jesus’ example from this passage before you go any further in relating with her. Verses 16-18 show how Jesus brought conviction, using the Law and gently pointing out her transgression. Gently speak with her and let The Holy Spirit do the convicting; let Him direct you as to what to say. Once she comes to an admission of her guilt, she is ready for hope.
* Jesus then revealed Himself to the woman at the well (v. 26). She was ready for grace. If the person you are talking to is ready for grace, be sure to present the work of the cross — that God sent His Son to suffer and die in our place. Tell her of the love of God in Christ, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and the defeat of death. You can say something like, “It’s as simple as this. We broke God’s Law, and Jesus paid our fine. If you repent and trust in the Savior, God forgives your sins and dismisses your case.” Be sure to include the essentials we talked about at the beginning of this lesson. If a person is truly broken over her sins and grateful to God, then her confession will flow without prompting, either silently or verbally to you. Be sure to pray with her. Make sure she has a Bible. Encourage her to go to a Bible- believing church. Start a One-Another relationship with her, Life On Life!
Any kind of mentoring, discipling, friendship, and all One-Another ministry should continue to be rooted in the Gospel.
One of the best tools for One-Another relationships is this phrase:
APPLY THE GOSPEL
What do you think is meant by “apply the Gospel”?
As you do Life On Life with someone applying the One-Anothers of Scripture with her, you will find that there will be many opportunities to share hope. Women and girls struggle in all kinds of areas. You are likely to bump into some of these struggles if you have any kind of ministry, family life, or social life. Once you are fairly certain that someone has grasped the Gospel for salvation, the help you give her from there is to help her to see the need for and ability to APPLY the Gospel to her life. You want to always be sure that you are not giving her the idea that she needs to change her behavior or mindset in order to earn approval, acceptance, or even worse, salvation. Always emphasize her eternal security; struggling people often struggle to believe this Truth. Remind her of her identity in Christ and how He views her. It is not because she earned it, but because of the Gospel — His finished work on her behalf.
Applying the gospel means to be MOTIVATED by the Gospel. When we grasp it, we are motivated to share it and apply it. It is what motivates us to change.
Someone who is joy filled and peaceful in spite of circumstances is someone who understands the Gospel.
If we are unregenerate, not a believer, we are going to be motivated by the flesh. (1 Cor. 2:14)
We are either flesh motivated, or Gospel motivated in our One-Another relationships. A believer can still choose their flesh at times, but as a new creation we are transformed, renewed, and no longer bound to the flesh nature. In order to stay Gospel-motivated, we need to keep saturating our minds with the Gospel Truths.
Preach the Gospel to yourself every day! You don’t preach it in the sense of being a sinner who needs salvation. You are already saved, and God says you are a saint. But you do still sin. These Truths of the Gospel, preached to yourself (remind yourself of them often) are profound, and you will want to share them with others as you do One-Another ministry! Here are some examples of Gospel applications that can help you to do this:
First, acknowledge your sins to God and rest assured of His forgiveness for those sins.
Recall that you have the promise of God’s forgiveness and acknowledge that your only hope of right standing with Him is Jesus’ blood that was shed (Hebrews 9:22), and His righteous life lived on my behalf.
As you engage in a One-Another relationship, after you have helped someone to apply the Gospel and she grasps these Truths, you can then also apply Scriptural principles, commands, and promises to her situations.
To learn how to practically apply this kind of equipping in your one-another ministry, please visit our course offerings and resources at www.biblicalmentor.com.
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