A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of listening to Jack Hayford at the 300 Leaders Conference. If you enjoyed this event, or the video you may want to book for our next one, where Terry Virgo is the speaker. Below is a video of Hayford’s first session followed by some rough notes that I took:
Hayford began by saying, “My calling card is that I am a pastor. I am a shepherd of the church of God. I didn’t set out to be successful. I didn’t set out to pastor a mega church, but I did set out to be fruitful and faithful. It’s about growing people rather than growing churches.” He is still involved in the School of Pastoral Nurture, which is part of Kings University. Many pastors have participated in that course.
He spoke from Matthew 16: The dynamics of spiritual ministry are not about style. The skill that you display and the methods you use are often seen as the keys to growing a church, but they’re not. There is now a notion that it’s crucial to gain marketing skills, develop music teams, organize meetings, create an attractive place for people to come. But as important as those things are, they are not what a church is about. They are not the source of the dynamics of a church. We must look at the things Jesus thought about the church that he would build and how it would function. This conversation occurred about six months before the crucifixion. This is the Great Confession, which together with the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, forms the dynamics of the church. The church that truly worships and prays, practicing spiritual warfare, calls down the kingdom.
“You are the Christ, the son of the living God” This is the first statement about Jesus intentions. He came to earth not just to save sinners, but to bring them into a community that will disciple and multiply. The mission of the church is not fulfilled by only preaching the gospel throughout the world so that people come to Christ.
The full gospel brings salvation, healing, the manifest power of the Spirit, and people who are discipled and are able to bring the touch of Jesus. The people in the world don’t care that they are lost in sin. They do care about sickness and the problems they are facing. People can be touched at the point of their greatest perceived need. It isn’t their greatest need, but when we come with the wholeness of Christ we can touch them. Jesus came to build a people, a community.
Caesarea Philippi was where the god Pan, who represented sensuality, was worshipped. It was very similar to our current world. Jesus takes them to a place dominated by the world. It can’t have been a meaningless choice. Jesus asks who do they say I am. The world is always looking for a prophet. They want to know about the future. Jesus is more than a prophet.
Peter’s confession of faith is the essence of what the church is about: Jesus’ person, his presence, his power, his purpose. The Jews were looking for a powerful king who would overthrow the Romans. That had nothing to do with Jesus coming. Jesus is not about changing the social structure. He is about changing people’s lives. If he is welcomed, he will change the structure of society. But we need to recognize that whenever the church has gained political power it has been a failure. Church can influence society and make a difference, but that is not its mission. Jesus is not about improving your status. But if your life is aligned with God, you will tend to prosper (e.g., you will become a better worker so that you will be more likely to be promoted). Jesus will affect your family. It is not about becoming ostentatious or religious, it is about Jesus working in simplicity. Dynamic is not a show, it’s a glow.
Jack said he didn’t come to lead The Way church with a plan. He’d turned down a big opportunity because God had told him not to take it. He then felt God told him to take on a small church of 20 people. He had no idea what God would do. He knew two or three things that God had taught him: basic foundations and discipleship. This can be done from the pulpit by shaping a people to think a certain way. It’s not mere excitement, although it is exciting. It is about an encounter and a transformation that happens when you come into his presence. We need to prepare people to pray with and talk with people.
The church began to grow steadily. Church begins with knowing who Jesus is. As the Christ, he is more than a king. The Lord comes to shape your life and tell you what to do. Jesus says we are walking through life together and I want you to learn how to let me lead you. We receive him as Savior then obey Him by being baptized in water. Sadly, often only half to two thirds of people who say they received Jesus get baptized.
The most stunning theological concept is the Incarnation. The Trinity and eternity are also like that. How does the infinite become human and yet God remain unchanged? How does he choose not to exercise his powers? It’s all too marvelous for words. Our minds can’t contain it. Leave a little room for God to be bigger than you understand. God is really big and he’s really smart. He became incarnate to be our Savior but also to demonstrate how a human being can function in the power of the Spirit. He chose to lay aside his own capacities and rely on the Spirit. The same thing happens to us. When Peter was asked what we must do to be saved, he replied repent, be baptized, and receive the Spirit. How do you lead a congregation in this way? Church is about more than evangelism. It’s not just getting people saved and nicer than they were before, it’s about getting people to surpass their potential through the power of the Spirit. He came to bring Christ in us. Not just the hope of glory one day, but exceeding human capacity even now. Becoming instruments of Christ. Jesus has come to enable human flesh to experience an inflow of a life quality that reveals Jesus in us.
All of us with open eyes are transformed into his image. Not just into his character, but in terms of ministry and touching peoples lives. Character is important, but we are also to do the works of Jesus. We should expect the Lord to do things through us. Sometimes things may happen immediately, other times it will take time. We don’t always have to go for the jugular the first time. The call we have is not to grow a church. There are many conferences on your dream for your church. Sometimes, people hear that we must package things and then our churches will grow. Jesus has called us to grow people. He will grow the church. We want to see people whose personal lives are better than they could have imagined. We are to touch people with Jesus. We should be like Jesus at the well, when the woman said you must be a prophet. When Paul and Barnabas were preaching, the people said that the gods are among us. We often say that the church isn’t an institution, it’s people. Ecclesia had nothing to do with religion. It was a gathering called by the king to discuss how they would govern. It’s a people, a community of a kingdom endowed with power for the kingdom to become what it’s going to become. Our job is to help God’s people become that.