Pastor's Pastor

Pastor's Pastor: Power-filled church growth

Pastor's Pastor: Power-filled church growth

James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

In preparing for a year of evangelism, remember that personal work is as essential as public proclamation.

Society’s situation does not demand an either/or approach. We need effective preaching to the masses, and we need effective personal ministry to individuals.

By reliance upon God’s power, our efforts become His work from initiation to completion.

“There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit.”1

God provides the power. “ ‘But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you’ ” (Acts 1:8).2 With the Holy Spirit we can accomplish everything; without Him we can accomplish nothing.

God provides the process. “ ‘And you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth’ ” (Acts 1:8). Begin at home. Follow the natural sequence of fi rst reaching your own family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Then expand wider until, ultimately, the entire world is lightened by the gospel.

God provides the promise. “ ‘This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’ ” (Acts 1:11). Jesus’ own promise to gloriously culminate His kingdom at His second coming motivates our ministry.

God provides the premise.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:14). Start where His fi rst followers started—with unity, prayer, and seeking the Holy Spirit.

God provides the proclamation.

“Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins’ ” (Acts 2:38). The content of our preaching is specifi c and clear: Jesus, repentance, and baptism! God provides the prophecy.

“ ‘And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children’ ” (Acts 2:38, 39). The same gifts that the Holy Spirit poured out upon Christ’s church at its inception are available to Christ’s church today.

God provides the projection.

“ ‘And to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call’ ” (Acts 2:39).

Scripture envisions a saving message that encircles and enlightens the entire globe.

God provides the purpose. “He testifi ed and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation’ ” (Acts 2:40). Devise bold initiatives that are for the specifi c purpose of saving people.

God provides the persuasion.

“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41). At Pentecost, Peter’s preaching was so powerful that his listeners happily acted upon their convictions.

God provides the product.

“And that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41).

Abundant results follow relying upon God’s plan.

God provides the program.

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Organized, determined efforts to disciple new believers include: Bible study—preaching and teaching.

Prayer—seeking the Holy Spirit.

Fellowship—visitation and nurture.

Witnessing—telling of God’s blessings.

Obedience—developing believers into disciples.

God provides the proof. “Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43). Marvelous manifestations accompany life-changing experiences.

God provides the portion. “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44). A unifi ed church sees to the needs of all.

God provides the participation.

“And sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:45). A unifi ed church encourages all to share and to sacrifi ce.

God provides the presence. “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46).

Jesus remains in the midst of His people through the indwelling of His Spirit.

God provides the praise. “Praising God and having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:47). Living in praise brings joy in our journey and favor among all who observe.

God provides the prosperity.

“And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Heaven envisions an ongoing process, more than a one-time event.

God provides Himself the prize.

“ ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God’ ” (Rev. 21:3).


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

September 2008

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Implications of 1 Corinthians 5:5 for church discipline

First Corinthians 5:5 is a difficult passage to understand. What lessons about church discipline, taught by Paul to first century Christians, can be applied to the church today?

First Corinthians 5:5 is fraught with both exegetical and theological difficulties.1 How is the church to "deliver" the incestuous man to Satan? What does "destruction of the flesh" mean? What about the salvation of the "spirit" in the day of the Lord? What implications does this text have regarding church discipline? Our discussion will focus on three areas.

The healing power of empathy

As a pastor, you are often called to be a peace bearer in the midst of conflict. Learn how you can use empathy to resolve differences and bring true peace.

Mentoring and attachment: Insights to ministry to emerging adults

Why mentoring emerging adults is crucial in helping them hear God's voice.

Early onset Alzheimer's: Living with the unthinkable

Discover the hope beyond Alzheimer's disease that only comes with a deep relationship with God.

Deaconesses in the church - Part two of two

The conclusion of a two-part series about the role of deaconesses in the church.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - SermonView - Medium Rect (300x250)

Recent issues

See All

Latest Videos

See All
Advertisement - SermonView - WideSkyscraper (160x600)