Let me begin with a status update from my spiritual father’s Facebook page. He wrote:
Reading through Jeremiah and Lamentations in the One Year Bible [really gasping for air]. GOD’s tolerance for dirty living was at “0.” And my “take away?”
1. Clean living is valuable.
2. Clean living’s got to be “on our radar.”
3. Clean living has to be a from the “inside–out” deal.
GOD — please — take GT beyond information to transformation.
In this Facebook status update I would like for you to notice just one phrase. Forrest says, “Take GT beyond information to transformation.” For those of you who do not know Pastor Beiser, he is my spiritual father. And he leads a thriving church in San Francisco. This phrase, “beyond information to transformation,” has been one of the driving forces of his life and ministry, at least since I’ve known him. Making disciples is what he lives for.
So, how do you lead people beyond information to transformation? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Pioneer a yearning lifestyle
- Let your people see your devotion. Don’t just preach about prayer be a prayer warrior. Don’t just preach about reading and studying the bible, model it. Don’t just talk about fasting, fast. Don’t just beat people over the head about holiness, be ye holy. Don’t just talk about worship, be a worshiper. Be the visible demonstration of where God is calling your audience. Only when you are that visible demonstration, can you impart others. I have seen this consistently in the life of Forrest, from my young days of being in his discipleship group, until recent years working with him as a pastor. I have seen his hunger for transformation.
2. Prepare yourself diligently for preaching
- Infuse your preparation with prayer, humility, quiet meditation. Study to show yourself approved. As much as it depends on you stop preaching other people’s sermons. If you do – use an outline so that you can spend time developing the sermon notes. Give some time to finding sermon illustrations, but don’t make embellishing your sermon your main thrust. Remember it is about impacting not entertaining. Go deep but also recognize that there are people who may have no clue about what you are talking about. So understand your audience. Work with the Holy Spirit by giving him space to do the work through you. Use every style of preaching you know and let your message be prophetic, practical, profound, creative and gospel centered. I have not seen this diligence in anyone else, like I have, in Forrest. His hard work, his ability to grow and adopt, contextualize, be creative and at the same time make space for the Holy Spirit to have His way is a trademark of his ministry.
3. Put a Bible in every member’s hand.
- Choose a sound and correct bible translation. I don’t mind people using their bible apps on their iPhones, ipads or what have you. But create a culture where people are interacting with God’s word at all cost. Create a culture of taking notes. Give weekly assignments, so that people are in the word. Small group involvement, impacting some so that they can impact others. Create discipleship groups and accountability groups. I remember walking, for the first time, into one of Forrest’s services and getting saved. Few weeks later, I was traveling across the city to co-lead a bible study group. Frightening en? I can’t start to recount how much that helped me to grow in my new-found faith.
4. Preach the truth and nothing but the truth
- Preach the hard stuff, not just the stuff people want to hear. Get in their faces, not in a holier that thou kind of way, or a fleshly judgmental way, but in a truth-loving biblical way. People come to church to hear something that will challenge them. They are looking for something that will help them break sinful habits and untangle their lies and deception of their own flesh and Satan’s traps. Preach the truth – for it is truth the sets people free. It is not your call to come across as smart or intellectual with quotes and platitudes and philosophical rubbish. Your call is to “die in that pulpit until Christ comes alive in you” – I think I heard that somewhere. I have heard many sermons from Forrest and they all felt like he was talking to me – like he had read my spiritual email that week. I’ve had him cornered me, one on one with rebukes. I remember once he told me, “Walter, you are a closed book, open up your life, be accountable.” I remember his warnings, challenges and most of all, his honest, powerful and life changing encouragements.
5. Plan external learning experiences
- There are other pastors, churches and believers living and experiencing the life of transformation. Churches that have moved beyond just dispensing information to bringing life and transformation in the life of their people. You can certainly learn from them by visiting some of their services, sending teams and leaders to catch some fire. Be open to new things. You can invite pastors who are living examples of a ministry that has gone way beyond just giving out information to people to leading people in a life of transformation. A few years ago when i worked with Forrest, he took me to Illinois to a conference for some exposure. He was on a journey to do something new in San Francisco – he was hungry for something new to happen in his church, so we went expecting for God to do something new in our lives. I could feel it, see it in his eyes and even hear it in his voice, he wanted it badly. Today that vision is blooming at gtsf.org
Beyond information to Transformation!
There is no other place I know this is happening than at GT – Glad Tidings Church in San Francisco Pastors Forrest & Christina Beiser. Check them out gtsf.org