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Church Planting 201

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In my last post church planting 101, I wrote about some of the basics that I have seen work and some that have failed miserably. In this post I want to talk more about what is required in the church planter himself.

In church planting we need Holy Spirit power, sound and practical theology, future planning, church promotion and quality support to make the church plant into a viable and sustainable church. On top of that, a successful church plant needs a legit leader, this is a must.

About ten years ago, I was asked to help a guy start a church in California. He had financial backing, he had front man skills, was a decent speaker…but was an awful leader. Needless to say, the dude quit the plant less than 5 months into it. I didn’t join the team and that church plant fizzled into non-existence.

Now while there are many reasons why the plant didn’t succeed, the biggest reason was that the dude wasn’t a church planter or leader…he was just a guy who wanted to preach on Sunday. Preaching on Sunday is the cherry on the cake, it’s easy. You read, you prepare, you pray, you practice your delivery, you make programs and keynotes, you wake up Sunday and deliver it. It’s simple.

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Church planting is much more complex than just giving a sermon. You are a small business entrepreneur. You are a janitor. You are a counselor. You must become affluent with promotion and fundraising. You will need to understand your demograph and know how to connect with your city. You need to be trustworthy and reliable. You must be a general and also a humble servant. You must learn how to handle extensively troubled people and also learn how to help them without losing your mind. It’s complex.

A church planter must become more than just one dimensional.

I’ve seen plants fail because planters were too one sided. You’re not just a preacher, you are a pastor. You’re not just a speaker, you are a house call medic. You will need to learn when to say no, and when to say yes. You must start thinking like a theologian and living like a missionary. Church planting isn’t done on the side, it takes more than you think and demands your attention. It’s deep.

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As we launch out this year to start two more churches in the Detroit area, there are a few points that our Leadership Team at City Church has been stressing with our guys as we go forward in church planting. I pray they help you in your journey. This list obviously isn’t everything you need, but we see them as the basics needed to start a successful church plant. Some of these keys can be taught, others cannot, if you are planter you should know the difference.

  •  Passion. The church planter must have a passion for the area God has called him to. A burden and desire to plant a gospel center is a must. If a boxer doesn’t have a passion to fight, he will get cold feet when he enters the ring. The apostle Paul had a passion for lost people to meet Jesus. John the Baptist had a passion for the hearers to repent. The apostle John had a passion for the Jewish community to learn of Jesus. This passion will keep you up, help you up, prop you up and can only be fueled by God. Either you have it or you don’t.
  • Theology. The church planter had better know the book. Seminary isn’t a mandatory, but it should be. How stupid is it for someone to want to be a pro baseball player, but doesn’t know what a balk is? It’s ludicrous that some guys want to plant but can’t articulate their faith in a short conversation. Read books. Take some classes. Learn.
  • Entrepeneur. Have you ever started anything from scratch that has lasted? Ever run a lemonade stand? Have you ever coached little league? Have you ever managed a store? Have you ever opened and closed a business? I just described to you what a church planter does. When you start, most likely you have very little to start with. In the early months you will attract people with problems, lots of problems and mostly baby Christians. You will learn to answer questions about concenrs you never thought of before. You will have to balance bills, projects, materials, personnel and quality control.
  •  Fundraising. News flash: church planting cost money. So after you call mom and ask your neighbors for money, you had better have a financial plan to help start your gospel center or else you are done in 3 months. Think about it like this: why should anyone give you money to help you start a church? If you can’t answer it with a thought through financial plan, then you have some homework.
  • Community. Loners can make great people, but not always great leaders. Can you find 3 to 5 people that would drop everything to help you? If not, you might not have impacted others lives as much as you think you have. You don’t go to war with just anyone. The same is true in church planting. You need seasoned veterans on your team and people that will go to bat for you, with you and at you. I’m sorry guys, the days of just doing it yourself are over. Odds are against you already, work on being friendly and make a difference in your close circle…then tackle the circle of church planting.
  • Home. There is no off switch to church planting, but you had better have a safe zone with some backup. If your family isn’t on board, do something else. Church planting, like pastoring, requires a balanced life which includes the home. Your marriage will be tested, your kids will be put on display and your life is now a book for others to judge. How do you expect to give marriage counseling if your marriage is a wreck? How can you get up on Sunday and teach on raising your kids if they are burning your house down? You can you preach on trusting God in your life if you don’t want to go home? Balance guys.

There are exceptions to rules, but church planters shouldn’t be looking for them. Work on personal growth, family development, spiritual leadership, theological soundness, business savvy and developing loyalty. I can’t promise you that if you do all of this you’ll succeed, but I can promise you that without it…you will fail.

-jon

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I don’t look like a pastor…

I don’t look like a pastor…

Detroit Christian Rock Band "Sinned & Saints"  -Jon Jackson (me) -Joe Gibes -Kyle Gross -Joe Nemanis

Detroit Rock Band “Sinners & Saints”
-Jon Jackson (me)
-Joe Gibes
-Kyle Gross
-Joe Nemanis

I get asked quite often questions like most do “What do you do?” My answer normally of pastor & church/mission planter shocks religious people, but to those I hang out with… not so much.  Let me explain with two thoughts: people have a Western Christianity paradigm of what pastors should look like & Jesus should be the example to Christianity, but he really isn’t.

First, many people have a Western Christianity paradigm of what Pastors should look like.

Most people have a view or paradigm of what a pastor should look like, do, and behave. One of the biggest reasons for this is because of our western cultures influence on church and perceived holiness. Most who grow up in church think of a pastor or priest as a holy man, a clean cut gentlemen who studies in an office, counsels, marries and buries people and then speaks on Sunday’s at 11a.

Most people also picture pastors as men in suits, standing behind a pulpit and speaking loudly about subjects from the Bible. Criticism is also prevalent when viewing western Christianity “pastors” as many people immediately think of tv evangelist or faith healers who are out for money and who drive a Benz. (preachers of Detroit anyone?)

Honestly, most pastors are not just a little culturally irrelevant, but they are also about 300 years late to it. Today, people have more respect for people who are like them and are succeeding rather than someone proclaiming a different way to do it from a high and lofty perch.

Secondly, Jesus should be the example to Christianity but sadly, he really isn’t.

When Jesus came to earth he invaded human culture. He did not bring his attire or ways of heavenly doing things with him. He wore the clothes of a normal Jewish boy raised by a single mother. He worked a blue color job and lived in poor Galilee. He hung out with fisherman (low job with no benefits), became friends of drunks, theives, prostititus & traitors (disciples & followers).

Jesus did not impose his culture on others…rather he saw lives transformed by the gospel. If the disciples were around today, most would see them as too dirty to pastor. Most would only see Peter as a hot head who had a rough background who shouldn’t be trusted, rather than the saint most have made him into.

The disciples were hazardous, rebels, dirty and didn’t look anything like “pastors”. Paul was a hired gun who put people in jail, Matthew was a Jew who worked for the Romans, Philip was a dude who hung out with people of a different culture, Mark was a quitter and I could go on.

The gospel transforms you into the hands and feet of Jesus…not into a cookie cutter mold of American culture from the 1900’s. Hear me now, I’m not against peoples culture if it’s old or different…I’m for diversity!

The problem with much of Christianity is that it is too isolated.

We need more color in our Christianity. We need more differences embraced, convictions challenged and preferences pushed aside for the gospels sake rather than a holding onto traditional things for traditions sake. I’ve heard my whole life from “traditional” pastors that we shouldn’t be like the world…but they themselves were just imitating the old world.

I have tattoos, piercings, listen to hip hop & rock…so do my people. I eat at coneys & love “Slows BBQ”…so do my people. I hang out at the gym, the corner store, the cigar bar and the neighborhood park…so do my people. God called me to be his hands and feet in my community to my people. I can do this best by being like those whom I am called to serve.

To be more missional is to be more like how Jesus was when he came to earth rather than being like “how we were taught”, “traditional”, “old-fashioned”, or even “contemporary”. If your people or community looks a certain way, be like them like Jesus did and not like your professor at bible college or like the pastor you worshipped.

I don’t look like a pastor…I look like the guy I talked to on Sunday and like the guy I lifted weights with this morning, and like the Detroit bad ass who needs Jesus and not a “Western American Culture pastor”. I am a representation of Jesus, and if your culture prohibits you from reaching people…ditch your old ways and embrace a missional lifestyle.

Being more like Jesus means you become more like the world around you, not less like the world. When the Bible says “not be of the world” it was speaking specifically of sins and the fake human way of living including religious Pharisees & false cults. Don’t take things out of context, being like Jesus means to be like the people around you and letting the gospel transform them.

If you were raised in a traditional or legalistic church they taught the exact opposite of this. They put parameters & definitions on holiness. They made a suit and tie and a bible under your arm the standard for obedience…when Jesus said “love your neighbor.” Legalism teaches rules and guilt…Jesus said the “burden is light and easy.”

So either Jesus is wrong or the paradigm in which much of Christianity thinks today is off and needs some adjusting. I beg you to be more like Jesus. Embrace culture. Love people. Give more grace. Don’t judge. Forgive often. Hug the hurting. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked and embrace the orphans.

Pure religion is like this. Legalistic religion is rules and performance. Pure religion is grace to the women at the well, stopping the stoning of the adulterous woman, having dinner and a party with the lying cheats and drunks showing them God’s love. Legalistic religion is human worship, throwing stones by holding signs boycotting & shaming people.

If Jesus was to come to America today rather than Judea 2k years ago he would hang out in Detroit with the drunks, Johns, and low income, blue color working, food stamp card peeps. Jesus wouldn’t show up to church on Sunday like most of Christianity,  the proof is found in his example of what he did. He showed up and the church people got flipping mad over his attire, his friends, his way of doing things and his liberal ways…sound familiar?

I don’t look like a pastor…I’m trying to look like Jesus.

-jon

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A Life of Justice, the Gospel, and Detroit – Guest Post by Drew Ansley

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A Life of Justice, the Gospel, and Detroit – Guest Post by Drew Ansley

Every time we visit Detroit, we come back with stories to tell. It’s not just the abandoned, broken down, post-apocalyptic feel you can get traveling through some parts of the city, with its overabundance of overgrown, long-since-left-behind structures.

It’s the lady asked to leave Starbucks by the Police, after holding a 10 minute verbal contest with another patron over her need to just leave when the manager asked her to leave. It’s the church on fire as we drove down the road. It’s the driver beating up the passenger of his car as we passed them on Woodward Ave.

The more time I spend in Detroit, the more clear it is that justice for the suffering must become the constant posture and ready response of anyone who desires to see God made much of in this city. Of course, God already told us this was important to Him. He is a just God who hates unjust scales (Micah 6:11; Proverbs 20:23). It’s Who He is. It isn’t merely something He likes. He IS justice.

That’s why He would have been unjust to let our rebellion slide and pardon our sins without punishing someone – the right Someone, Jesus, to vindicate His justice (Romans 3:21-26). So in order to show His perfect justice and His perfect mercy, God punished His son, Jesus, instead of us and gave evil you and evil me a way to know God and live.

Now Jesus, who suffered the most heinous injustice in history on the Cross, calls His people to defend the defenseless and to be fathers to the fatherless as a reflection of His character. We are the physical, tangible presence of Jesus lived out on earth (Eph 1:22-23; James 1:27). It cannot be merely a peripheral ministry. It is a core issue in the heart of God, and Detroit is one place He won’t let you forget it. Place office hours all you want on your church food pantry, but in Detroit, injustice and great need comes to your own back yard – literally.

While in Detroit a couple of weeks ago, we headed over to Pastor Jon Jackson’s house for dinner. When we arrived, there were extra kids in his and his wife’s arms. This is not an uncommon occurrence for this couple at all, having taken in various teens and children over their 8 years in Detroit, while maintaining a constant life of service to the community around them.

This time, however, Jon explained that he was waiting for the police, which was at that point going on 20 minutes. While grilling chicken in the backyard, he had observed a disturbance in a vehicle stopped in traffic beside his house. It turned out there was a young woman being beaten to a bloody pulp by her boyfriend. She tried to escape by exiting the car, but he pulled her back in and proceeded to choke her with both hands and continue beating her like he was in an MMA fight.

As Jon approached, the man ran, got in another vehicle, and fled the scene. The result was that we waited another 20 minutes for the police, and another 20-30 minutes after that for the EMT. While waiting, we fed and played with her two young, scared children and Jon and his wife spoke with the police and young woman.

So here’s the point: this is the NORMAL stuff, not the exception. I could share a dozen other similar and even worse stories and I have a very limited exposure to the city still. What about all of the progress happening in Detroit now? Sure, Detroit is “coming back” in some regions of the city, but the injustice that has been found there for generations is not going anywhere. In fact, new growth (though not inherently negative) will result in new injustices at various points.

Jesus entered, and even suffered in, our injustice and brokenness. He has called us to do the same for others for His name’s sake. We are the carriers of the hope that can be found in Jesus, and in a city like Detroit, we have no choice but to be ready at any moment to dispense that hope to the broken and hurting, even when at great personal cost. We serve needs not just at the church or community center, but as we live our lives moment by moment. We embody and speak of salvation and life possible through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in and through everything we do, everywhere we go, with every day we live.

What Detroit forces on those who live and minister there should teach all of us everywhere some important truths. The need for the gospel and for hope and for help is far beyond the reaches of our churches and our ministries, therefore our hearts and lives must reflect this broad scope as well. We must allow our own amazement at God’s provision and salvation in our lives to grow, so that in response, we will always be ready to give this Good News to others. The gospel points us to a life of Justice no matter where we live. Detroit just happens to hold us to it.

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Reflections from a Young Preacher – Demetrus Stokes (For Church Leaders)

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In March 2013, after much prayer and Godly counsel, I answered the Lord’s call to preach the gospel. I remember being extremely nervous as I preached three times over the course of that March weekend in the absence of our lead and associate pastors. The nervousness for the most part stemmed from me understanding the weight of this duty I was entrusted with. It was something I most certainly did not take lightly. Since my first sermon last year, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to preach at my church, mainly during our student ministry “Hype Night” services and more recently at our Saturday night services. Each opportunity has been a great learning experience and an opportunity to “hone my craft” so to speak. I generally badger my pastor for critiques and look for areas I can improve. I thank our elders and my church for being gracious and kind to me through my growth in ministry.

I was recently asked to reflect and talk about what I have learned in the last year about pastoring/preaching. As I continue to seek God for direction in terms of where and what teaching role I may have in the future, I hope that what I’m learning can be helpful to a young preacher like myself in the early stages of ministry.

More Than Just Sunday

In football, you often hear coaches or players use the term “Any Given Sunday” (which ironically was the title of a popular football movie several years ago). This means that anything can happen on the football field during a game. Well I’m learning that for pastors that phrase should be “Any Given Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday!” Anything can happen, any day of the week where as a pastor you may be needed. From counseling, to funerals, to weddings, a pastor’s job seemingly never ends! Add to that personal devotion, prayer, meetings and sermon prep and you my friend are one busy fellow!

I’ll admit, looking at pastors growing up, I thought they just threw on a suit, stepped up to the pulpit, and God just gave them the gift of gab. Not the case! Being a pastor is hard work! I often talk to my father-in-law who is a bi-vocational pastor in California and marvel at the fact that he works a full-time job and pastors a church. I seem to always catch my Lead Pastor on the go. Meetings, seminars, trips to pick up food and clothes for the pantries we have at our church, dude is always doing something. I’ve had a chance to tag along with him to some things and I have to make sure my energy level is on “10!” So while most of us see the finished product on Sunday, know that most of the heavy lifting is being done Monday-Saturday.

Pastors Can’t Fly

Pastors are often the “go to” people for life’s troubles. At times it seems that pastors have all the answers. This causes some in the church to place the pastor at an exalted level only meant for God. While most pastors are great leaders and Godly examples in our communities, they can’t “fly.” In other words, they are not superhuman. Pastors are human beings that have problems, get discouraged and need prayer just like anyone else. I remember being a kid and visiting my childhood pastor’s home. I walked into his house, and to my surprise he was sitting in his living room watching the Pistons. I was shocked! Why? Because I had always looked at pastors as guys who didn’t have time for “regular things” like watching sports. I always looked at them as “Holy Robots” who trained in righteousness 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  As I’ve grown and matured, I see pastors as men of God who enjoy sports, playing with their kids and going on dates with their wives. I see pastors as men who don’t have all the answers and thus seek guidance and prayer from their wives, godly friends and members of the church. I see pastors as honest men who don’t think they are above confessing sin and seeking help because quite frankly, they aren’t superhuman. Pastors can’t fly.

Readers Are Leaders

If I can be honest, there was a period in my adult life where the last thing you’d see me doing is reading. Between elementary, middle, high school and college, I figured that I had pretty much met whatever requirements I had when it came to reading. At the time, I would have much rather watched a game or play video games. As God began to mature me, even before I was called to ministry, he allowed me to begin to see the importance of reading. I can honestly say that today, I probably read more than I watch television. I truly love to read!

As preachers, that reading starts with the Word of God.   All scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). Paul tells the Romans that whatever was written in the past was written for instruction and the encouragement from the scriptures gives hope (Romans 15:4). I believe that holds true to us today. The Bible is a great source of encouragement and hope. In addition, it is your guide to teach and train the people God has entrusted you with.

God has also blessed great people of the faith with the ability to write awesome gospel centered books on a myriad of topics. Whether it’s books on preaching, marriage or biblical manhood and womanhood, I have personally been blessed to read some awesome books that have helped in my spiritual growth.

In addition to topical books, Christian biographies are great reads. John Piper in his book “Brothers We Are Not Professionals” calls pastors to read Christian biography as we continue to develop. Piper states that Christian biography is history and the most powerful kind of theology because it “burst forth from the lives of people.” So in your spare time pick up a biography on Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards or any of the great men and women of the faith who’ve come before us. You’ll be glad you did!

Plan, Prepare, Purpose

I’ve learned that pastors are great men of vision. They generally have a plan for where they see their church going and seek the Lord in seeing the plan come to fruition. Prior to coming to the City Church, our pastor had a vision plan he called “Think Big.” This was a plan that would call for different missions and churches to be established in Detroit and the surrounding area. While it took tons of prayer, assistance, successes and failures, God is working and we’re seeing our pastor’s “Think Big” vision coming to pass. We’ve done numerous feedings, outreach events and even helped a church launch in the past couple of years. It’s been a blessing to see God working through people as we impact our community for Jesus.

Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Pastor Eric Mason in his book “Manhood Restored: How The Gospel Makes Men Whole,” states that “commit” means to roll, as in rolling one’s burdens on the Lord. Any Godly man of vision must have complete dependence on God and if it is in God’s will, his plans will be established. Mason also gives a helpful outline when we are seeking to establish vision and plans of the Lord:

  1. Pray
  2. Ask God for visionary and directional clarity
  3. Write down the vision
  4. Plan and strategize what it will take for the plan to come to fruition
  5. Continue to seek the Lord’s face
  6. Seek godly counsel
  7. Make the necessary revisions
  8. Work the updated plan with much prayer
  9. Thank the Lord for bringing different aspects of the vision and planning to fruition.

Pastors are men of vision who don’t seek out their vision and plans without direction from the Lord. They are fully dependent on the grace of God and his blessings to plan and cast vision for community impact that will ultimately glorify God.

It’s All About Jesus

Let’s face it; we live in a world where pastors have reality shows, TV deals, book deals and countless speaking opportunities. Some people in the world see church as “big business” and equate pastors to fancy car driving, big spenders who look to take as much of grandma’s life savings as possible. Then there are those who are “called” to ministry who look to attain what a lot of the “TV pastors” have, fame and fortune. Sadly, the mission of these preachers leans more towards attaining wealth than preaching the gospel.

On the other side there are those who are passionate about Jesus, the gospel and making disciples. Those who are passionate about preaching biblically accurate, gospel centered sermons that change lives and reconcile people to God through faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve been privileged to meet many pastors with this goal in mind. I had a cool opportunity to attend a seminar a few months ago on “The Gospel and Money.” This seminar was attended by many metro Detroit pastors and leaders as well as pastors and leaders from Ohio and Canada. One of the highlights of the seminar was intentional prayer time where groups of men and women gathered together and prayed for extended periods of time. The cries to the Lord for the people in our communities really showed me the heart for God that these co-laborers in the gospel have. Also, conversations I had with various leaders during the seminar further confirmed the desire for change and the hearts of those present.

My first year preaching has been challenging, but it has also been rewarding. I’ve learned a lot, continue to grow spiritually by God’s grace and have established new relationships with some great people. I hope to share more of what I am learning in a future blog post. Ultimately, I want to be a preacher whose goal is to not preach messages that focus on me but to preach messages that point people to Christ. Pray for me as I continue on this journey serving God, my family, my church and my community.

Grace and Peace,

Demetrus “Meech” Stokes

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What I Learned in Ministry (For Church Leaders) – Ritchie Jordan

Ritchie Jordan is a deacon & life group leader at City Church, a preachers kid and former pastor here in Detroit. She has served in the ministry for over 30 years, has a servants heart, worked very hard in the ministry and loves the Lord. She is happily married to Russell Jordan. This post took courage to write and as her friend I want to thank her for the honesty and insights she shares here in this post. Words cannot express how much she has helped me and our ministry here in Detroit. May these words encourage you, strengthen you and help you in your ministry. I asked her to write a few thoughts down on what she has learned in ministry that would help me and others. The following is her response. Enjoy! -jon 

Ritchie Jordan speaking to City Church in February on "Black History Month."

Ritchie Jordan speaking to City Church in February on “Black History Month.”

The Call

There was a grip on my life like Paul in 1 Corinthians 9. I had to preach the gospel. Reading the word was like breathing. The more I read, the more he gave and made me to want more. I understood things with ease where if I tried on my own I would get very frustrated. I learned to allow God to have His way with me. When Christ enables me then I am strong.

Even when I find I am weak, when I cannot…God can and did.

Before God could use me, He had to bring me to a place where I had to completely rely on Him. I had no doubt it was Him working in my life. I was broken, of no use to anybody. Didn’t feel that I could do anything. I had to declutter my mind and my life by getting rid of things that kept me from focusing on God. I could never trust my common sense when the statements of Christ contradict it. This was a very hard lesson to learn when we are taught to rely on our common sense. For instance, when every thing in me tells me to go and do…Jesus tells me to sit and learn.

I never take anyone, especially myself to be good. Natural goodness always breaks, always disappoints because the heart is deceitful above all things who can know it. Never trust anything in yourself or anyone else that God has not placed there. The only way to know God’s will is to obey from the heart. Ask Him and wait for him to answer.

Ritchie welcoming two new members to City Church after they were baptized!

Ritchie welcoming two new members to City Church after they were baptized!

Knowing God

I have to allow Jesus Christ to manifest in my flesh, not just be an imitator of Him (Satan is an imitator). I had to always allow God to receive glory. It was and is God working in me, not me doing what I think God wants. But me knowing God’s word and being lead by the Holy Spirit to do God’s will. I had to Know who I was ministering to. God helped me to do that. Was I talking with New Christians or mature Christians? Did the body needed to know or be reminded of it’s position in Christ or do they need to know how to go and evangelize?

It was at these times that I gave away more than I received and I didn’t take the time I needed to refresh. I sacrificed family and personal enjoyment. Sometimes I got lied to, lied on and disrespected, tried to be tripped up and had my authority questioned, but I had to learn tolerance and be confident in my call, and above all else put God first.

I could not be quick to judge or criticize. Just because I haven’t experienced it doesn’t mean it is’t real. I never denounce something on which I know nothing about nor do I proclaim things I know nothing about. I don’t try to preach something I heard because it sounds right or good if I don’t know it to be true. This helps me to never forget who I am. What I have been and and what I may become is by the grace of God.

I tried to be available and willing to do his will. Trying to interpret the word of God on my own would wear me out physically, but a concentrated strenuous mental effort that allowed the word to talk to me invigorated me. When I concentrated on what Gods’ word said and allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal what I needed to learn from the word and share with others always worked for me When I felt a block I would take a walk and talk with God. If this didn’t cure than there was something wrong with me. I needed to take ” stock of my spiritual life” find out if there was a break in my relationship with God. What have I done that was not pleasing to God?

Know the word. Read daily, focus and concentrate on what the Lord is teaching. For me and for others, allow His word to soak in. Meditate on spiritual as well as natural aspects of the Word. I had to learn to receive as well as give. You give and give when God sends someone to give to you, be gracious and receive. This is still really hard for me to do. Trust God. Have faith that God is real and not just Bible verses or a catch phrase. I have to trust him in every aspect of my life and ministry. I have to be willing to say I don’t know and then go find out. I could’t try to fake it till I make it. If I didn’t know or was not sure I had to look it up verify what God says about it. Where I found it in the word and what were the circumstances. Then be able to and go back to explain.

Serving. Respect the lead pastor. Respect the office of pastor God has called them to be there for that time. I was taught this. I was taught this, but didn’t learn this until I was disrespected and the office I held was disrespected.
“Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.” No leader can do it all by themselves. There is no success without sacrifice. I have heard it said, “every failure brings you one steps closer to success.” To get there we have to make sacrifices.

I had to be proactive, not reactive not every problem. I needed to go to the lead Pastor. When an assignment is given, learn to work through things to be a help and not an added burden to the Pastor. I read some good books to help me learn and in some cases, phrase thoughts and stimulate my thinking. Take some time out for myself to refresh to take stock and to listen to God. And when it was time for me to leave the ministry,  I tried to walk away with integrity not tearing the body apart.

Ritchie in City Church worshipping with her grandkids.

Ritchie in City Church worshipping with her grandkids.

Hurt and wounded

Being wounded (not just me, but my family also). When my family saw the hurtful way I was treated and the lack of respect I was shown, it made my family to question God as they wanted to know why. They questioned their faith and even their salvation, we had to talk about people and how sometimes they forget who they are representing. The same body that you think loves you, can be the same body to tear you down. A simple disagreement on order of service or praise team vs devotion leaders can be reason for an up raising. The important thing I learned was not to be focused on the issue but to stay focused on God and the assignment He had give me.

Don’t get hung up on the applause. Just because people told me how I blessed them, or how good of a job I did I must always give God the glory for doing good. And when not so good, I would have to go back and find out why. My sensitivities are impertinent. Find a way to renew the Spirit daily.

Taking up my cross. I looked for justice, when I should’ve looked to Jesus. I tried to find refuge in people and other pastors when I should have been finding that secret place of the most high God. I gave way to self pity and discouragement when I should’ve praised God for allowing His strength in my weakness. I allowed circumstances to hinder my relationship with people rather than allow my light to continue to shine for Christ. I learned denying myself really means denying my right to myself not just to things. Having a outpouring of love for Jesus and winning souls for Him.

Ritchie leads a Ladies Life Group monthly and City Cafe (pictured here) weekly on Sunday mornings 10a.

Ritchie leads a Ladies Life Group monthly and City Cafe (pictured here) weekly on Sunday mornings 10a.

Going On

I have learned that fear freezes, pain numbs, but forgiveness frees. Be willing to allow people to be whoever they are and wherever they are. I had to remain teachable as there is always something I can lean. I had to know when I was in pain and know when I was afraid. Sometimes I was so numb I didn’t know how I felt. I had to be willing to forgive even when no one wanted to be forgiven even when they continued to be hurtful and hateful toward me.

I was called into ministry, but I believe that being voted into becoming a Pastor and allowing the people to dictate to me my ministry (even though it was only meant to be temporary) was not the place I was supposed to be. A temporary misstep has taken me 10 years to get over and I am still coming out of it.

I forgot to maintain my personal relationship with God no matter what. Never allow any man, woman or demon from hell to come between my soul and God. Embrace anyone or thing that leads you to know God better. I have known this truth but I have not always done this. Knowing and practicing what you know can be very different things. It is said, “you never know what you would do until you go thru something,” but with God your eyes and mind should always be on Him for direction and strength.

-Ritchie

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Detroit Live Podcast – Episode 10 – Interview with Josh Carter Part 2 – March 17, 2014

Episode 10 – Interview with Josh Carter Part 2 – Detroit Live Radio Podcast – March 17, 2014

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In This Episode:
Jon continues his talk with Josh about life, devotion and books they have read.


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Detroit Live Podcast – Episode 9 – Interview with Josh Carter Part 1

Episode 9 – Interview with Josh Carter Part 1 – Detroit Live Radio Podcast – March 17, 2014

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In This Episode:
Jon talks with Josh about pastoring, worship music, ministry and life in the 313.

Subscribe to Detroit Live via Itunes: http://feeds.feedburner.com/JonJacksonDetroitLiveRadioPodcast  

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