Archive for April, 2014
When the Lord called me to Northwest Arkansas in October 1986, I had no idea I would be here 27 years later. I really did not come here with a “plan” about how long I would stay, but always assumed I would probably one day be called back to a church in my home state of Texas. Yet, demonstratively and clearly, at least to this point in life, God has called me to spend 27 years of my life in our church, now known as Cross Church.
Therefore, I am often asked by so many people, especially ministers, “How have you stayed in one church or ‘survived in the same church’ for 27 years?” Through God’s grace and grace alone have we been able to do this. Yet, I want to highlight for you some practical matters that have placed us in this grace moment.
My personal walk with Christ
There is no way in the world anyone can pastor a church in today’s world for any length of time without a strong personal walk with Jesus Christ. In a post entitled, My Mornings, you will learn about how I have given my mornings to God. I mention this only briefly today because I have already written about it extensively. Please review it, because I can tell you this: Nothing, and I mean nothing, has been more important than this daily time to empower me to be in the same church for 27 years. You can hear a pastor or leader say this or that about how they have stayed, but I can assure you, without my personal walk with Christ, I would have been toast years ago!
My marriage has been strong…We have done this together
Jeana and I have been married for 37 years. She was raised in the family of a west Texas pastor. She had experienced the ups and downs of ministry life way before she married me. Her experience accelerated my perspective in many ways. While both of us have a passionate love for the church of Jesus Christ (and I mean passionate), our love for each other is also great and strong.
While some couples live life apart, we live life together. While many pastors and their wives declare independence from one another, we are dependent upon one another. You see, Jeana has a strong walk with Christ also, a very consistent time with God early in the mornings. We also pray together and share life together.
I am convinced, because our marriage has been strong and we have served the church together, we have been able to stay here for 27 years successfully. To every pastor and wife, commit to do ministry together. It will lead to longevity and happiness in life and marriage.
My church and I have grown together
Longevity in ministry is impossible when the pastor and church are not growing together. The mission of the church is what keeps you together and as you grow in that mission into complete alignment, longevity in ministry together is more probable. You see, in my opinion, it is a far greater achievement for my church to have had the same pastor for 27 years than for me to have been here for 27 years. Ministry is a missional partnership between a pastor and a local church.
Cross Church has a history of being a strong pastor-led fellowship of believers. This was the biblical pattern many years before my arrival. This DNA in our ministry has been one of the secrets of ministry longevity. Through our 27 years together, we have seen the church change continually, and guess what – I have also changed continually. Both the church and the pastor changing towards Christ-likeness contributes to ministry longevity.
My perspective becomes clearer daily
When my perspective is clear, I see things in a much better way. I want to share three perspectives that I believe have helped me greatly in staying here for 27 years.
Perspective #1: I do not let people out of my circle of love
In 1987, a very wise man named Ron Lewis challenged me in this area of life and ministry. I remember being at a Bonanza Restaurant when he looked at me and said, “Ronnie, never let anyone out of your circle of love.” All these years later, I practice this continually.
Yes, church members and staff members have been disloyal and hurt me deeply and personally, but I determine never to let anyone outside of my circle of love AND I don’t! I refuse to do so. You see Pastor, if you will keep your heart open and not closed, sensitive and not hardened, some of those people may come right back around into your church again. Determine, “I will not let anyone outside of my circle of love.”
Perspective #2: I am a great forgiver and forgetter
Pastor, never forget this: Hurt people hurt people! Sometimes you will become the brunt of other people’s “stuff.” You must be a great forgiver and forgetter! I used to get sidelined and even paralyzed by the criticism of others. At times, it has almost put me to bed!
But it comes back to my daily time with God. In prayer, it is easy to forgive and even to forget. It wrecks me when someone dislikes me or writes about me being something I know I am not. However, the route to wholeness and healing is forgiveness toward all people and forgetting about it, always driving forward. Let it go, Pastor! If you hold that hurt, it will fold you and your ministry.
Perspective #3: I realize ministry has seasons
I cannot tell you how many times I have come to what I imagined as a wall in our ministry. I did not think there was anything left to do, or another mountain to climb. Through the years, I have learned so many valuable lessons, way too many to post in one blog. Yet, one of the most valuable lessons has been that ministry has seasons.
Pastor, there are seasons we plant and sow; there are seasons that are bare and dry. Hallelujah, there are also seasons of God’s powerful blessings and harvest. I have seen our church at our best and I can assure you, I have seen our church at our worst. One of the great keys to staying anywhere is giving your church a break, realizing that all ministries have seasons.
Churches are like people. We do not always have our greatest moments and greatest years. We suffer, we change, we hurt, and we experience loss. So do churches. Yet, we cling to the hope of the cross, knowing that while weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning.
A right perspective can help lead you to ministry longevity.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Almost every person has been affected by unforgiveness in some way or another. Either we have held a grudge or known a relationship hindered by someone who refused to forgive. Friendships and fellowship have been ruptured by wounds, unforgiveness and bitterness.
As I have pastored local churches for over 35 years, I am convinced that the #1 obstacle to spiritual revival personally and in the church, is the sin of unforgiveness. Nothing has built a taller, deeper, and thicker wall in the hearts of people and in the churches of our land.
Thank God, He forgives us
Human relationships fractured by unforgiveness are damaging, to be sure. What about our need for God’s forgiveness? Is God forgiving? Can anything be done if we have offended Him?
Thankfully, God has not left us in the dark. Yes, we have offended God, and yes, He will forgive.
The Bible is clear in both the Old and New Testaments that humans have sinned against God. Jeremiah laments on behalf of his kinsmen in Israel, “Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our fathers, from the time of our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.”1 The Psalmist wrote even more broadly, “The LORD looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, who seeks after God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.”2
Yet, God forgives us. We are grateful!
How can God ever forgive?
We are not let off the hook in the New Testament. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.”3 Humanity has a problem, and that problem is the sin that separates us from God.
How can God ever forgive? Only through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. As Peter and John told the religious leaders of their day, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”4 As Freddy Cardoza puts it, “The debt we owe God because of sin is beyond our ability to pay. But God provided a way for the debt to be paid through the death of His Son. God always forgives the sins of those who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord.”5
What about those who have already accepted Christ? Is there forgiveness for the manifold sins we commit between the time we are saved and the time we leave this earth? Does God forgive the forgiven? Thank God, the answer is yes.
The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”6 Those of us who have believed in Christ are forgiven at salvation and forgiven as we are made more and more like Christ. This is one reason we are encouraged to forgive others. We need to experience the ongoing forgiveness of God that restores our fellowship with Him.
Therefore, Forgive Others
Since God so freely and sacrificially forgives us, we should forgive others. Friends, never let anyone outside of your circle of love. Forgiveness is imperative in the life of a Christ-follower.
Therefore, walk in forgiveness toward others.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
1– Jeremiah 3:25
2– Psalm 14:2, 3
3– Romans 5:12
4– Acts 4:12
5– Bible Studies for Life, Beyond Belief, Freddy Cardoza
6– 1 John 1:9