2009 FBSC Annual Meeting, Pensacola
PENSACOLA (FBW)—Pastors should not be afraid to make the “big ask” of their church members, challenging them to be faithful in attendance, giving, encouraging and willing to do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ, David Hughes preached Nov. 10 during the annual sermon at the Florida Baptist State Convention in Pensacola.
“I’ve discovered this through Scripture that as a pastor, especially a senior pastor, it is part of my calling before God to ask His people for big things, to go for the big ask from time to time,” said Hughes, pastor of Church by the Glades in Coral Springs.
Hughes preached from the “text message”-length—only 26 verses—biblical book of Philemon, noting the Paul’s message to Philemon to treat well his runaway slave Onesimus and to send him back for ministry with the apostle is an example to pastors of how they can request big things from their members.
“When you stand up and teach God’s Word, be unafraid and unapologetic. You ask for big things for your King,” Hughes said, addressing pastors.
Pastors should ask their members to “show up,” Hughes said, noting his frustration with church members who are unfaithful in their attendance.
“When lost people come to my church and hit a week and miss a week, I get it. They’re lost people. They’re just kicking the tires. But when you cross the line of faith, you should hunger for the church. You should get excited for church,” he said.
Noting there is a “spiritual synergy” and a “faith fusion” as Christians worship together, Hughes said, “So, tell your people to show up. Show up every single week as a holy habit.”
Hughes said church members should also be asked to be financially generous, even in a difficult economic environment like today.
“People get funny when you talk about their money. But you’ve got to ask them to be generous. It’s a biblical thing. I believe in the biblical tithe. I believe in the offering. I teach it as God’s Word,” he said.
Although pastors need to be compassionate and understanding of members who have lost jobs and are experiencing economic difficulties, Hughes said people fail to be “generous with the Kingdom” ultimately because of a “love issue.”
“No matter how dead broke you are you will always find a way to finance the things you love,” he said, citing men courting women, pet lovers, and parents who are willing to spend money on those things they love most.
“If your generosity is limited, listen, your love is limited,” Hughes said.
Hughes also said church members need to be asked to be encouraging to one another and to pastors.
Pastors need to be encouraging in the manner in which they do ministry, he said.
“Don’t dumb down or soft sell the Gospel, but you cannot teach or challenge anyone pastors unless you connect with them,” Hughes said, citing TV preacher Joel Osteen and former president Bill Clinton as examples of persons whose charm win them hearings.
Without endorsing Osteen’s theology or Clinton’s policies or personal behavior, Hughes said both men gain audiences because of their winsomeness, something pastors can learn from.
Hughes said there are three kinds of people in church, illustrating them by beverages—water, energy drinks, and prune juice.
While water is a common drink that everyone needs, it does not do much either way. Most people are like water, he said.
Meanwhile, there are rare persons who are like “Rockstar” and other energy drinks who are encouraging boosts to their pastors.
“Your pastor needs Rockstars. He needs to be surrounded by double expresso people because his task, his calling is a difficult one.”
Hughes noted some people, however, are like prune juice because their negative influence is draining to others.
Churches need to be places where people are encouraged, he said.
“I want them Jonesing for our church on Thursday like a crackhead needing a hit,” Hughes said. “Because they will come and enjoy the spiritual synergy of what Jesus is doing at our church and walk out with a word and a blessing over them.”
Citing Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 9:22, Hughes said pastors should ask their members to be willing “to do whatever it takes to bring just one person to Christ.”
Hughes talked about the transition that took place in his church, previously on the decline, in which church members were willing to make radical changes in order to reach people after he became pastor 10 years ago.
“We’ve taken that verse to an extreme. Because I believe heaven is real and hell is real. So our church is provocative. Our church—10 toes over the edge and the ledge. We will do all possible things, anything short of sin,” he said.
Hughes said church’s “over the top” and “provocative” methods may not be for every church, noting, “I think church today is executing the Great Commission with great effectiveness in your cultural context.”
Hughes thanked Florida Baptists for their willingness to elect FBSC President John Cross last year, sending a message to younger, innovative pastors that they have a place at the table.
He also encouraged messengers to support a motion later in the day to authorize Cross to appoint an “Imagine If … Great Commission” task force. The motion was overwhelmingly approved in the afternoon session on Nov. 10.
Hughes concluded, “I’m not promoting methodology. I’m promoting an attitude. Whatever it takes to bring one more to Jesus and it starts now. Make our move now.”
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