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I have come to discover that there is silent crisis going on in most Churches and Ministries today. It is the crisis of Guest Speakers. It is both negative and positive in nature, but the scale tilt more towards the negative side. Church and Ministry leaders are largely mute about this crisis, but nobody can deny its existence. Quite unfortunately, it has consumed many ministries and presently, many Church leaders are trying to grapple with this problem. Well, I hope this book can be of real help to such leaders. Permit me to itemise some of the reasons for this book. 1. Ministry and church leaders have kept quiet for too long: There is scanty teaching, book, emphasis and warning about Guest Ministers in most of our Schools of Ministry, Bible Schools and Ministers’ Conferences. This has allowed many Church leaders to do whatever they like and Guest Ministers have had a field day milking and short-changing Churches. It is not a problem that started yesterday, it has been going on for years, but most top leaders have failed to really speak out as they should. Though, there have been some warnings in few denominational churches about the type of Guest Ministers they should allow, but largely across the board, topmost Church leaders have been too quiet on this issue. This is the gap that this book has come to adequately fill. 2. Many ungodly practises abound by Guest Ministers: Since there are little or no guidelines and ethics to follow, most invited speakers usually take the law into their hands and do things that mostly benefit themselves and not the Church of Jesus Christ. I know Churches that got scattered and in dissaray due to the ungodly antics of invited speakers. A Guest Minister was invited to a Church to preach. He did a good job and warm his way into the heart of the people. Before you could bat an eyelid, he started messing around with the women. He was sent away shamefully, but the Church never remained the same too. Many aggrieved people left and the Church had to start from the scratch all over again. This is a tip of the numerous attrocities being perpetrated by invited speakers in Churches and Ministries today. The aim of this book is to reduce these problems to the bearest minimum. 3. Many Ministers now run Invitation Ministry only: I’m aware and have seen many Ministers who have no Ministry base anywhere and they only thrive on welcoming invitations to preach in Churches and Ministry functions. They are freelance and Mobile Ministers. Many of them are in the Prophetic, Evangelistic, Apostolic and Music Ministries. They move from meetings to meetings, preaching and ministering here and there, without any good and stable work of their own. Many of such Mobile Ministers have little work going on within, yet they boast of great things outside and make merchandise of God’s people. Of course, there is a place for Itinerant Ministry, but not to the neglect of doing something worthwhile back home before you move out to honour invitations. Many of such ministers who operate invitation ministry only are money mongers. Their desire and motive is money, not really being a blessing to the people of God. It is such ‘Ministers’ that charge for meetings and raise offerings and special seeds for the ‘Man of God’. If the honorarium is not what they expect, they get angry and demand for more, because they knew how much they’ve raised. Well, it has become a business venture, not really the work of God again. This book hopes to bring the needed balance to this crusial area. 4. Bad image of Guest Ministers abroad: In my several travels across Africa, Europe and Asia, you must have to prove that you are genuine and honest, because of the notoriety of Guest Ministers who have gone to these places as Guest Ministers and sometimes, Church founders. In Shoshanguve, Pretoria, in South Africa. I was shown many Churches that were scattered due to the immoral and ungodly monetary practises of visiting Guest Ministers. In Nairobi, Zambia, Ghana, Swaziland, Tanzania and Europe, it is the same story all over. There are Nigerian Ministers who have nothing on ground back at home, but they travelled out to minister, rake money and sleep with women. In some cases, they broke away their host Churches to start their own and re-marry so as to perfect their stay over there, even though they have wives and kids back home. The situation is so bad that we have to start serving as a clearance base for some Churches. I pray that God will use this book to arrest this ungodly trend and repair the bad image that the average preacher have come to attract. 5. Churches are being run by Guest Spreakers: I’ve known and seen so many Churches being run and constantly lead by one Guest Speaker or the other. It’s as if the host Pastors have abdicated their God given resposibilities to visiting ministers. There are even Churches founded by ‘rich guys’ that are not called by God. So, they run the Church by inviting one Guest Speaker or the other for various meetings, week in, week out. Some Pastors are always on the look out for Guest Speakers, and they invite anybody to their Church, so long he or she can preach, even if the Invited Speaker doesn’t have a semblance of godliness. These and many other reasons that you ‘ll be reading necessitated the writing of this book. This is an issue that is so practical and widespread among many Churches, that someone need to speak up about as they are being practised today. Of course, I’m also a Guest Speaker to many Churches and Ministry’s related events, and I’ve had to put up with lots of strange practises by my hosts, while trying to put these things into consideration. Yet, we must practise the truths in this book. Either you are a Guest Minister somewhere or you are the Host Minister, this book has something for everyone, and if you are open-minded enough, you can pick one or two things that will greatly help your ministry and ministrations. Every grace to you today. DR. FRANCIS BOLA AKIN-JOHN
Let me start this introduction by quoting a Bible passage found in Psalm 12:1 “Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men”. This is an apt scriptural description on the issue of associates and assistants. Today, 90% of ministers and leaders say they are tired of dealing with disgruntled, double-faced and disloyal associates, both in the church and ministry. But the sad reality is that it is such type of associates that are in majority today! Finding a loyal, faithful, teachable and available associate is a rarity today. It is like looking for a coin in a heap of sand. But that should not be the case and this is the reason for this book. In my over a decade of teaching, training and empowering church and ministry leaders across Nigeria, Africa and the World, I have seen it first hand and experienced it personally, the havoc and damage disloyal, disgruntled and double-faced associates can do and are capable of doing. Much of the crisis, problems, tumult and church breakaways being witnessed in so many churches and ministries today are the direct outcome of wrong associates. Too many associates - associate pastors, overseers, deputy president, personal assistants and assisting team of leaders have brought much heartache, tears, pains and sometimes, destruction to the work of their leader. The situation is so bad that many leaders are now afraid of trusting anyone as associate. All these have led me to the writing of this most important book. I have searched around for some years now books on this subject, but have only seen one or two titles on it. This is an indication of the magnitude of this problem. Due to the pervasiveness and deep-seated nature of wrong associates, I have come to some profound conclusions which I will enumerate in this introduction. Firstly, we don’t know how to really follow. Many who are in leadership positions today lack the skill to really be good followers. Many who did not follow well are now demanding good fellowership from those under them. How ironic! Many leadership schools, institutes, schools of ministry and conferences are criminally silent on how to be good and loyal associates. Majority of the teachings are only tilted on being the number one person in your church or organization. Unfortunately, they fail to realize that in God’s mathematics, you will never be a good number one until you are first a good number two. Secondly, many who should still be following are already leading. My experience with many young Pastors and leaders confirm this assertion. Too many that broke away to start churches and ministries shouldn’t have done so. They would have been much more fulfilled in serving the kingdom of God better if they have remained as associates to good leaders. And their good support and useful contribution would have made some good and potential leaders better ones in the body. We all need to realize this truth. Not all of us are to be number one - the topmost leader. God has never designed it that all of us will lead from the front. Thridly, most times, it is better to be number two in God’s plan than to be number one in your own plan. The stagnation and retrogression of many once thriving ministries are the direct outcome of this mistake. Many churches and ministries are going under after initial euphoria of a great start simply because the founders are not designed, prepared spiritually, physically and emotionally for such monumental leadership responsibility ahead of time. It is such people we refer to as ‘accidental overseers’ today. Fourthly, many associates have made shipwrecks of their lives and future due to their unholy actions against their leaders. Many have incurred curses and backwardness due to their ungodly antics while they were associates. Many are going about struggling with life and ministry as a repercussion of their disloyalty to their former leaders. Even some have died or left the ministry entirely as the fruit of what they sowed while they were associates. Finally, we need to urgently address the issue of disloyal associates in the ministry. Not that this problem is peculiar to the church alone - it is there within the government establishment, business circles and the society in general, but it is much more pronounced in the church within the last couple of years. Due to many humanistic and motivational speeches and preachings that pump up the ego and pride of the human heart, many young people don’t see themselves serving under any person, and many associates have backstabbed their leader, claiming that the Scriptures says “I shall be the head and not the tail”. This book is my humble attempt to bring sanity into this ungodly madness. It is written to leaders in every strata of the church in particular and the society in general. The topmost leader will find one or two things useful and those at the middle leadership or at the lowest rung of the ladder will also find the content useful, insightful and challenging. I sincerely hope that young leaders and potential leaders who are serving in obscure places will take the message of this book to heart. Ultimately, we are all associates of Jesus Christ, the Ultimate Leader - no matter which position we find ourselves. So it behoves us to find out from these pages how to be true loyal associates. Start living them out in your daily lives. I strongly encourage every leader to read, reread, adopt, adapt and adjust to the timely truths of this book. It will save you from many hurts and heartaches. Dr. Francis Bola Akin-John International Church Growth Ministries
I strongly believe that the Lord has given me the emphasis on Growth. In my over a decade of examining, teaching and studying the word, I’ve increasingly seen its impact and importance in all spheres of life. I’m convinced therefore that before we can truly experience church, business, ministry, financial, family and material growth, we must first incarnate personal growth. Personal growth is the mother of every other growth. Without it, every other growth will collapse and work against us. Personal growth is the beginning and end of all other growth. God’s glory shines brightest in our lives when we grow to whom He wants us to be. This book is for everyone - preachers, Christians, leaders, associates, doctors, lawyers, business men and women. Youths and young people will especially find a goldmine of revelation that will catapult their lives to higher heights. This is a book for those who want to make greater impact in life. It is for those who are not satisfied with their present level and those who desire to endure and not fall away from the faith. The picture of growth given to us in Psalm 92:12-14 is that of Palm Tree and the Cedar Tree. Trees that first grow within before they grow without and that keep on growing until they die! God wants us to grow and grow and grow until our dying day. Unfortunately, many have not come to terms with growth in this dimension, especially personal growth. The more reason many once great men are falling and failing miserably today. Let me underscore the imperatives of personal growth to all and sundry with some few points here: Firstly, being used doesn’t necessarily mean perfection and approval. Quite sadly, many who are being used mightily by God think that they don’t need to grow again. Well, remember that the mule of Balam was used but later cast aside. Samson was used but later destroyed himself simply because he failed to keep working on himself and grow his personality. Secondly, you can be deceived by your gifts. Many people have been deceived by their gifts and talents. They think they don’t need to improve on their personal life again, therefore falling by the way side in their lives and ministry. God takes more stock by your fruits than by your gifts. Thirdly, the higher you go, the more weight on who you are. Charisma may get you started, but it is only character that will sustain you. And when you don’t work on your character, your position, title, fame and material success will destroy you. Who you are is much more important than what you accomplish in life. It is your personal growth that will sustain you when everything else fails. Fourthly, you must get out of your own way. Most of the time, we are the greatest hindrance to ourselves. You can be your greatest asset or your greatest liability. Your weakness can weaken and ruin your life and ministry. You must therefore embark on the journey of personal growth to the extent that you will get out of your own way so that God will have a freeway in you and through you. Finally, average is an enemy. People who settle for mediocrity don’t stand out, their stories don’t get told. To be what we are and to become what we are capable of becoming is the only end of life. If we don’t take responsibility for our growth, it won’t happen. Growth is not automatic. It is a daily process. The gap between your vision and your present reality can only be filled through commitment to your personal development. And that is what this book is all about. Personal growth prevents personal and professional stagnation, and surely impacts your organisational growth. If you want to reach the height of your potential, personally and professionally, then commit yourself to daily personal improvement. The fact that this book is in your hand shows that God wants you to grow. Read, study and digest this book over and over again. Drink deep from it and let it become part and parcel of your daily living. Remember, we need not be tomorrow, what we are today. Dr. Francis Bola Akin-John International Church Growth Ministries Lagos, Nigeria.
One of the formidable challenges my ministry has faced in the African continent is that of snide remarks of leaders concerning church growth. Many leaders are wondering why I stick with the name ‘Church Growth’, when indeed there had been tremendous numerical growth of churches in Africa in the last several years. Many are thinking loudly that they really do not need church growth teachings simply because their churches have grown and we have had to contend with the comments, remarks, books and outright rejection by these leaders in the last few years. I strongly believe that this book will help such leaders to see what we have known for years about the church, not only in Africa, but also in majority of our open world. Allow me to enumerate the factors that necessitate the writing of this book: 1. To clarify true church growth Many churches erroneously believe that once they are experiencing numerical growth, then they are okay. But the opposite is the case. True church growth is not only numerical growth, but also spiritual growth. It is possible for a church to grow unhealthily. Numerical and physical bloating without corresponding health will only result in negative smell and odour from the church, which we have been witnessing in the last couple of years. True church growth and health must go together. Churches can start from growth and gradually move to health. But both must be held in constant tension in the church. That is the focus of this book. 2. To examine the health of our churches Just as many people take their physical health carelessly, so also we do to our churches. For too long a time, many church leaders just plant churches indiscriminately without caring a hoot about the health of those churches. In a rough estimate, over 85% of churches are sick and diseased, while 10% are moving towards sickness, and only 5% are truly healthy and growing across the world. With such a large percentage of unhealthy churches in our world today, any wonder why Christ have not come? 3. Scarcity of resources on Church health With the exception of Peter Wagner’s book: ‘The Healthy Church and Christian Schwarz on Natural Church Development: there is little one can lay hands on concerning church health. Of course, some authors like Rick Warren, George Barna and Elmer Towns have some good resources, but they are not really contextualised to our African and Asian situations. I sincerely hope that this book will dymystify all the technicalities surrounding church health and bring it to clearer understanding of the average church leader. 4. To show the heart of Jesus for His church Health, vitality, dynamism and vibrancy are the heart beats of Jesus for His church. Jesus is not coming for a cold, lukewarm, formal, sin dominated and carnal church. Rather, He wants faithful, loyal, active, loving and spotless church that will be a real major force in the world. That is the reason He sent messages to the seven churches of Asia Minor then. The seven churches represent the church in all ages and it shows that only two churches namely; church of Smyrna and church of Philadelphia were free from condemnation by the Lord. The rest five churches were to repent, renew and restore. Jesus still had the same concern for His church today. Churches must listen to the voice of the Spirit and repent where necessary and recover their health. I hope that this book will be the voice of the Spirit to the churches today, both great and small. 5. To show where much work still need to be done It is sad and unfortunate that many large Charismatic and Pentecostal churches have promoted the idea that all there is to a church is having large crowds of people and architectural buildings that boast of world class facilities. And many young preachers have made these their focus and goal in ministry. However, the truth is that large crowds and fine buildings do not necessarily make for healthy churches. There are too many of such churches that are physically and materially okay, but are sick, diseased and rotten up internally. Since this book is about church health, it shall look at all the external and internal organs of the church that make for healthy living. Church health will do the following to any serious reader: The terrible truth we all need to learn today is that not all churches are the church of Christ inspite of high sounding and biblical names. Not all churches will become a rapturable one. Not all churches will go to heaven, some will definitely be left behind. Of course, it is only the healthy church that will not be left behind at the rapture of the saints. To become a rapturable church is the goal of this book. Every serious church leader must read, study, digest, dissect and discover those gems that will make his or her church a healthy one. It is not enough to have a church, we must do everything scripturally possible to make that church a healthy one. It’s time to build healthy churches in every nook and corner of the world, if we really want to hasten the coming of our Lord. The time is now! * Church health will help you to see the true state of your church. * Church health will help you to discover the malaise troubling your church. * Church health will pinpoint areas that much work still need to be done. * Church health will pinpoint the way forward for your church. * Church health will bring healing and health to the church. * Church health will stem crisis, losses and break away in your church. * Church health will empower you to do more and be much more. * Church health will help your church to become a rapturable church. Happy reading! Dr. Francis Bola Akin-John International Church Growth Ministries
It is my candid belief that the continuous growth of the church in Africa depends largely on the kind of information that will be provided by African authors who have clear understanding of the church and the doings of the Lord. It is in the light of this fact that I embarked on the research and writing of this book. As everyone who has written a book will know, it is a very serious and demanding task to write a good and relevant book. It takes months, if not years of research to come up with facts and informations that will go a long way to really expand the frontiers of God’s kingdom. However, no effort is too great and no price is too high to pay for the sustainable growth of the church in Africa. It has been severally reported that the last great revival that will usher in the rapture of the church will come from Africa. And if that will be so, the growth seen in the last twenty years must be sustained and spread to other parts of Africa and into other Continents around the World. This then calls for proper grasp of the laws that undergird the growth of churches. For too long a time, many church leaders are oblivious of the laws that help the growth of the church, their believe is that growth in the church is only a divine arrangement or the sovereignty of God at work. Of course, growth is divine in origin, nobody can bring growth to the church without the mighty workings of the Holy Spirit of God. Yet, growth cannot happen in the church without some laws being obeyed. Church growth is a divine and human partnership. Paul must plant and Appolos must water so that God will send the blessings that will result in increase (I Cor. 3:6). In this instance, if Paul and Appolos failed to play their parts, God cannot do anything to bring increase. This is the truth of church growth that we seriously need to understand and apply. This book hopes to set forth all the laws that help to accelerate the dynamic growth of churches in Africa and in other parts of the world. These laws are the outcome of years of research as to the factors that help or hinder the growth of churches. They are not theoretical, but practical laws that work in everyday life of the church. I am going to present them in simple, strait-forward and easy - to - understand ways that every church leader can identity with. You may discover that you have been using some of them rightly or wrongly. You may find new insight for the ones you have not thought existed. You may also discover that you need to change some of the ways you have been doing church. Whichever area you find yourself and your church, the idea is that you adjust, adapt or adopt the laws. If you break them, they have the capacity to break your church sooner or later, and if you follow them wholeheartedly, people will flock and flow to your church in large numbers. Dr. Francis Bola Akin-John Chancellor International Institute of Church Growth