Monday, June 30, 2014

The Prayer of Pastors for Your Community

Last week, a group of pastors from the Elko area gathered to pray for ourselves, our churches, and our community.  We spent half a day together and hardly scratched the surface of what we were praying for.  I thought I would share with you some of what we prayed and discussed, realizing that our prayer points are universal for churches in virtually every community.

Our first prayer point surrounded the following passage:

"Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord
    and rely on their God.
But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from My hand: You will lie down in torment." (Isaiah 50:10-11)

Sometimes, God doesn't show us the future, intending that we learn to wait on Him to show us the next step.  We recognized that we (pastors, church leaders, congregations) often take matters into our own hands (i.e., make our own fire) and operate on the basis of our strategic plans, good ideas, the latest 'must-do', etc. God has said He will let us go the way of "our own fires"--but it will be without His blessing.  God forgive us.

Our second prayer point focused in on us not taking seriously enough our ministry and message of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19). We identified some problem areas that we as a Church needed to pray into (1 Cor.):
1. (1 Cor. 3:5 ) Dividing into camps based on personalities.
2. (1 Cor. 6:7) Emphasizing individual rights/desires more than the reputation of Jesus.
3.  (1 Cor. 6:7) Fighting with each other over non-salvation concerns--distracting from the gospel of truth.
4.  (1 Cor. 9:19-22) Not willing to do whatever it takes (short of sin) to reach the lost.
5.  (1 Cor. 9:23) We fail to see people as God sees them.
6. (1 Cor. 13) We have forgotten what it truly means to agape love one another.
7. (1 Cor. 10:31)  We are more interested in hearing the praises (or avoiding the criticisms) of congregants, boards, etc.
Jesus said: "On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."  (Matt. 16:18)  How have we as pastors and churches engaged in "making our own fire" or not taking our ministry and message of reconciliation seriously enough? Could this be the reason we fail to take enemy territory--causing a dilution (or even withdrawal) of God's full blessing?  God help us!

As pastors, we know that we often spend a lot of time building "our kingdom" that we fail to build His Kingdom.  We will be meeting again for a prayer retreat in September for God to continue to do His work in us.

Take this list and commit to praying for your pastor and church leaders regularly regarding these prayer points. [By the way, pray these same items for yourself also.]  Let Jesus build His Church!

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Uncommon Knowledge

Mark McCormack, in his leadership book The 110% Solution, states that leaders need to lead from a position of uncommon knowledge.  In other words, plans and strategies shouldn't just be based upon information available to anyone (i.e., 'common knowledge'), but that which is out of the normal, the expected, the routine.

In reflection, this is how Jesus led and functioned.
- The common knowledge: One boy's bag lunch is enough to feed one boy. The uncommon knowledge: With God, one boy's bag lunch could feed a multitude.
- Common: The young girl was dead.   Uncommon: Her death was turned into 'just asleep' by Jesus.
- Common: Lazarus in the tomb for four days, "Lord, he stinketh!"   Uncommon: He's ready to bound out of there.
- Common: With the crucifixion--the Jesus movement was dead.   Uncommon: With the resurrection--WOW!

You see this in numerous examples elsewhere in the Bible:
- Common: Egypt was a great power.   Uncommon: Egypt will be brought to its knees by seven years of famine--but God will work in and through Joseph to accomplish His plans.
- Common: A young shepherd boy has no business going to battle with a Philistine giant.   Uncommon: David has to slingshot only one stone and God will guide it to kill Goliath.
- Common: Gideon going to battle with 300 men against an army of 132,000--CRAZY!   Uncommon: The battle had already been won.
God's Word is full of uncommon knowledge.

But one thing I'm struck with is that uncommon knowledge does not mean unknowable knowledge.
"You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32) 
"Call to Me and I will answer and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3)
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1) 

The faith walk is not a walk based on what we see and already know--the common. It is based on the world of the unseen, the spiritual, the supernatural--the uncommon.

God wants us to follow Him (and lead others) out of the relationship of knowable Truth.  And knowable Truth always reveals uncommon knowledge. And uncommon knowledge takes us to the place God wants us to be--and there is no better place to be!

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Despise Not the Small Things

I have been traveling to West Wendover, NV once a week on Wednesday nights for the past 4 months or so to assist a small church there.  The trip is about 2 hours each way--which provides for plenty of reflection time.

This church has struggled over the years and become a church of 5 members with a smattering of other people who consider it their church home.  Why in the world would I consider investing my time in such an isolated rural community?  The likelihood of 'success' (i.e., more numbers) is questionable--the lack of recognition and 'glory' is all but certain.  This church, this community certainly qualifies as 'a small thing.'

In Zechariah 4:10, we read, "Who despises the small things?"  Some thought the work on rebuilding the second temple was insignificant--especially when compared to the glory of the first temple.  But we are reminded in Zechariah that God is in the rebuilding business--and His idea of 'significance and success' is much different than the world's.

I began a new sermon series last week in which I mentioned that God's desire is to give us an abundant life (John 10:10) that meets the deepest God-placed longings of our heart.  One of those longings is the desire for true success--a success that matters for eternity.  A success that is often found in the 'small things' found in life.

Jesus did not despise the little things. He invested in the lives of only a few rather than trying to build a mega-congregation.  He didn't spend His time writing books that could sell millions--but hurried to see a sick little girl.  Small things...

- A small boy's lunch that displayed the wonderment and awe of God's power. 

- An interruption of His schedule to personally minister to a woman who had a debilitating issuance of blood for twelve years. 

- Breaking every standard of conduct and custom by asking for a drink of water from a Samaritan woman.

- Making sure His mother would be taken care of even as He was hanging on the cross.

I have been called to pastor a relatively small congregation in Elko, NV.  I am ministering to a much smaller congregation in West Wendover. Small things that will never make the cover story of Christianity Today.  Small things that Jesus cares about.  Small things that matter for eternity.

Do you have any small things in your life that you despise?  Small things that God desperately desires to reveal His power and glory in and through?  Small things that are really not small at all?

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at




Friday, June 6, 2014

The Kingdom and 'D-Day + 70'

Today marks the 70th anniversary of that remarkable event called D-Day.  Those whom we have affectionately called 'The Greatest Generation' were willing to sacrifice all for the next generation, and the next, and the next. They waded into enemy territory, willing to put aside all of their desires, hopes, dreams--for those not even born yet--to achieve that which they may never experience the benefits of.

Isn't that what having a kingdom perspective is also about? Being willing to put aside ourselves, our comfort, our wants--to build into the next generation of followers of Christ? 

We've all heard it said that 'Christianity is only one generation from extinction.'  Yet, I have to question myself as to how diligent I really am in preparing and building the church with the next generation in mind.

Virtually every church I've ever been involved with had leadership that had been leading for many years, even decades. Leaders that became involved when they were in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are still the same leaders 10 or 20 years later (or longer!).  In other words, the dedicated folks who were a part of providing momentum in earlier years by diligent service are still the same people doing it decades later.  No wonder churches naturally get older and grayer.

You see this happening in virtually every area of ministry: children, youth, praise teams, ushers, deacons, Sunday school teachers...the list goes on and on.  Often, there are good reasons (or at least they're good in our minds) why we allow this to happen: 'We can't find as dedicated of people as we are.' 'This is my ministry--I enjoy it too much to let it go.'  'Not using all of our experience and what we've learned is a waste.'

As we are slowly implementing a discipleship approach in our church which looks at every individual growing into becoming a 'spiritual parent' of others, our responsibility in making disciple-making disciples (i.e., fulfilling the Great Commission) will force us to confront this tendency to 'age-in-place' in church.

I recently read a challenge for pastors to compare the average age in their church to the average age of their community. The wider the disparity, the farther down the road is the gentrification of their church. And this means that the church is that much closer to being a 'dying church.'

We need a new 'greatest generation' made up of those who are especially in their 50s and older. This generation needs to ask the question: "What will it take to reach our children and grandchildren?"  What programs, ministries, traditions and practices that worked at one time, but no longer seem to be effective, need to change?

Can we become the next 'Kingdom Greatest Generation'--willing to sacrifice all for the next generation, and the next, and the next? Ones not afraid to wade into enemy territory, willing to put aside all of our desires, hopes, dreams--for those maybe not even born yet--to achieve that which we may never experience the benefits of?  May it be done all done for the glory of God and God alone.

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at