Willie George on Planting Natural Seeds for the Supernatural

Willie George at Seeds Conference

At Seeds Conference 2012, Willie George of Church on the Move (Tulsa, OK) discussed our responsibility to move and plant seeds before something supernatural happens.

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Psalm 8:4-6
4  what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[a] and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,

When God created the world, He gave Adam dominion. But when Adam sinned, he lost dominion. Scripture teaches us that when Jesus came, He stepped into dominion. Now under the new covenant we once again operate in dominion.

Growth is not your domain. Man was never called to grow anything. God is the one that grows things. 1 Corinthians 3:6 says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”

Genesis 2 says that Adam had responsibilities. It was God who put all the plants and other things into the Garden of Eden. The only tool that God put into the hand of Adam was the planting of seeds.

God involves us in this amazing process of planting and growing. Where we get into trouble when managing a church is we pray for something that God will do things that is our responsibility. You are the one that has to exercise authority and dominion.

God very clearly sets down the pattern that He does what He can but you do what you can do. God wants you to use something that is in your hand, something that you are familiar with. You have to start somewhere. Everything starts small. You have to make the most of what you’ve got.

In 2 Kings 4, the widow did not have anything for Elisha but a pot of oil. Elisha still made her use what she had. When you come to a place of need, you may not have what you need, but you often have a seed.

I never had any money to do anything God told me to do when He told me to do it.
– Lester Summerall

When we want to extend our ministries, we begin to look for a miracle. But it is natural first then the supernatural. God is not looking for a move of God; God is looking for a move of man. The widow in 2 Kings 4 had to move first before God moved. God’s desire is to blend the natural and the supernatural.

We get this notion that somehow the supernatural comes rolling in, but you have to make room for it first. God is the author of efficiency.

We are in a partnership. God could just as easily have turned air into wine as He did water into wine, but He said get the water jugs. If you are waiting for God to move in the checkers game, He may have already moved, and it is your turn (and God won’t cheat and go twice). You need to do your part and make room for increase before it comes.

Special thanks to Skylark Audio Video for covering my travel expenses so that I can live blog the conference for you. They love churches and are currently offering free AVL consulting.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar

Willie George on Why, What, and How They Changed

Willie George at Seeds Conference

At Seeds Conference 2012, Willie George of Church on the Move (Tulsa, OK) discussed why Church on the Move changed, what they changed, and how it changed their people.

I (Willie) cannot tell you how to run your church, but I can tell you what Church on the Move has done. There are many remarkable churches that do things different than us. There has never been a finer hour for the local church.

The more success that a ministry has in reaching one generation, the harder it is often for them to change in reaching the next generation. It is so hard to give up an old strategy, especially one that has brought you everything you have.

1 Kings 17:2-15 (ESV)
2 And the word of the Lord came to him: 3 “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

A God ordained strategy may be something God tells you to do for awhile, but it may change. A lot of us are afraid to change because we are afraid to lose some people, and the people we gain, we aren’t sure how they will pay us back.

There are unreached people in your town who have little or no resources right now that will become the biggest supporters of your ministry. Don’t look for big donors. Look for people with a willing heart. Resources aren’t the problem – it is the willing heart.

Other churches in your city aren’t your enemy; recreation is the enemy. There are more sinners in the city than your church building can hold.

There are people out there that we have the ability to reach, but you are going to have to change because your people are going to change.

When you enter transition periods, Christians start to act like teenagers and become restless and no longer like things. They say, “Pastor’s preaching has lost the anointing,” when reality is nothing has changed. So many believers jump from place to place to place to place because they try to recapture the feeling they want, but they run at the first sign of transition even though that transition will take them to the next level.

Some churches are structured for failure. Our church was!

Why We Changed

Our church culture had placed more emphasis on abundant life (life enhancement) and emotional release for the believer than we did on reaching the lost. The people we had were the focus of our ministry, but today the people we don’t have are the focus of our ministry.

We emphasized a wide variety of ministries when we needed to make the weekend service the main event.

What We Changed

So I (Willie) had to change my preaching to deal with different issues. We very often preach on things that there aren’t a hunger for. Teach people about marriage, kids, money, hard work, etc. We began focusing on the local church is the hope of the world because Jesus cannot work in people’s lives without the work of the local church. You have to realize that your church is an answer for people. We didn’t change our doctrine but rather how we were communicating.

We shortened our services by talking faster and eliminating needless transitions. We cut endless announcements in the service and communicated them preservice via screens in the auditorium and lobby.

We created a healing room next to the auditorium where people can go before or after the service rather than taking up time during the service.

We realized our offering talks don’t make the giving go up at all, so we cut those. Once a quarter, we teach on tithing and that is when giving goes up.

We coordinate every part of the service to tie into the message.

We got rid of unfriendly people. No more ushers that look for telling people what they can’t do. They made our church an unfriendly face. You have to check up on yourself and see hw you come across.

You must critique your preaching. Go back and listen to your preaching.

Make the weekend service the main event. Everything revolves around the weekend. When the vision for Sunday is weak, a host of auxiliary ministries will spring up that choke the weekend ministry. Our ministers were too focused on areas that weren’t really the DNA of the church. The more you narrow your focus, the more your impact will grow when you swing the axe.

Give your people bringvitations, and create a service where people think it is safe to bring their friends.

Try to explain yourself and why you are doing what you are doing. And justify your changes by celebrating your victories (sometimes it is a testimony). Build a culture of testimony in your church. And everytime you tell a story, ask for a story.

How This Changed Our People

There is a misbelief that if we are doing things right, that everyone will stay until the end. This doesn’t mean you should drive people off, but it is good for people to come and go.

When you make the weekend special, your people are motivated to invite all their friends. Highly motivated people will have a bigger impact than any type of media coverage.

The changes helped bring people face to face with God.

Isaiah 6:1-5 (ESV)
1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”[b] 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Worship is bringing people face to face with God.

Special thanks to Skylark Audio Video for covering my travel expenses so that I can live blog the conference for you. They love churches and are currently offering free AVL consulting.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar

Willie George on the 4 Absolutes of Leadership

Willie George at the Seeds Conference

At Seeds Conference, Willie George of Church on the Move (Tulsa, OK) discussed the four absolutes of leadership.

There are certain things that are principled, and this is one of them.

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
2 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)

This is about building a team. This is about structure. It is only two verses, but they list five layers of leadership.

  1. Jesus Christ
  2. Apostle Paul (who was taught personally by Christ)
  3. Timothy
  4. the faithful men who served Timothy
  5. the others taught by the faithful men

STEP #1 – Every leader has to be strong in grace.

Now grace means a lot of things The willing presentation of excellent ministry before and sometimes even without a reciprocal response from the people who are ministered to. Children’s ministers and missionaries understand this process very well.

You may not get a thank you from the people you minister to. But God has the most amazing ways of payback. You don’t always get payback the way you think you want it, but God’s payback is always better. You have to learn how to be strong in grace.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
Colossians 3:22 (NIV)

This means you need to be willing to do ministry with low pay if necessary. Ministry costs money. And the numbers only get bigger. The challenges only get greater. You need to get to the point where you do things because you love people and not because of the immediate reward.

STEP #2 – The leader must communicate vision.

Not everyone does this. The difference between success and failure is often subtleties.

The Kingdom of God is not motivated or energized by need. The Kingdom does not come by need but by faith. And faith comes by hearing the Word of God.

Need is not a great motivator, but vision is.  Think of vision as a blueprint. Blueprints don’t slow the work down. They speed it up.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
Habakkuk 2:2

The Bible is a big book of strategies, and those strategies are almost always inadequate. Grab a rock and a sling and face a giant? March around a wall seven times then shout? There is no vision without strategy.

STEP #3 – The leader must delegate to faithful men.

No matter how gifted a leader may be, he will never fulfill God’s will on his life without helpers.

When you release a faithful person to help you, there is always a reciprocating response. That faithful person releases you to do what you need to be doing. Don’t ask God where your helpers are.

Among the twelve apostles, there was not one single volunteer. Every one of the disciples were picked by Jesus while they were doing something else. That is what we have a responsibility of doing. Don’t wait for volunteers, you must draft people. But you must qualify the people you pick.

Test their faithfulness. The more successful your ministry is, the more careful you must be to qualify them. Success brings opportunists who are not faithful to the same thing that drives you. Test faithfulness in three areas.

  1. They must be faithful in the little things.
  2. They must be faithful with money. Do they tithe? Are they responsible with the church’s money?
  3. They must be true to the original. You do not have the license to do your own thing in someone else’s ministry. Your responsibility in to honor the spirit, the ethics, and the habits of the leader.

Model it. Show people how you want it done.

STEP #4 – The leader must remove workers who are not able to continue.

Starting out, you may have to take any help that is willing. But as you grow, you need to raise the ability of your people. Part of having the ability to do something is the ability to recognize whether you can or cannot do it.

A worker who lacks ability to do his job, will hold everyone back. When you fail to release a worker because you are worried about how they will make it, you are robbing them because they have a place somewhere else in the body of Christ.

You have to learn to change some of your people. A good leader has to remove people who are faithful but not sufficiently able.

No matter how bad, how hard, you want to do something… the key to it is the people.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar