And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations, Luke 16:9.
The above verse is the concluding statement made by Jesus Christ after giving the parable of the unjust steward. What a strange parable! A steward is accused of being wasteful. He is ordered to give an account of his stewardship. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward, Luke 16:2. It appears that the rich man had already made up his mind based on the information that he had.
It also appears that the steward doesn't see much hope of keeping his stewardship once the books are examined. Suffer me if you will as I apply this parable to the local church.
A steward differs from a servant in that a steward has control of his master's goods. He can purchase things at will, contract debts in his master's name and in almost any other way distribute his master's money, household or goods. Joseph summed up the role of a Steward when he pleaded with his master's wife; Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand, Genesis 39:8.
The Apostle Paul calls us stewards of the mysteries of God.
1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
1 Corinthians 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
1 Corinthians 4:4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
The Lord entrusted the apostles with the great mysteries of God. Likewise, they entrusted the local churches with those same mysteries. A faithful man of God will labor endlessly to distribute those riches to his people. He will be judged on that labor.
Those of you who are familiar with my preaching will know that I see our generation as the last generation of Independant (blah, blah, blah, fundamental) Bible believing Baptists as has been known for the last century. We no longer reproduce ourselves. Soul winning is discussed all the time but the results of soul winning seldom or never show up in the attendance figures or membership of any Independent Baptist church that I know of with one or two minor exceptions.
In other words, if you go to an Independent Bible Believing Baptist pastor and ask, him "how many people coming regularly to your church and demonstrating clear signs of wanting to learn to live as Christians are people who you found out in the world as lost people and through your evangelistic efforts they are now delivered?", you'll see that very, very few pastors can answer that they have any such people.
Independent Baptist Pastors have long ago given up on ever truly converting the lost and turning them into church members. Instead they are conservators of a failing system. The more successful among them convince families from other denominations or other Baptist churches to start attending their church. The pool of such people grows smaller by the year. Subtle changes are made every year to the music and other entertainments to attract and keep people.
I have watched a couple of formerly viable churches shrink as old age and death carried away the core of the church. I am watching a couple more go that way. If you follow the majority of the remaining people to their homes, their jobs, their Facebook pages, or to social events, there is very little evidence of a life sanctified unto Jesus Christ. Don't be fooled by bumper stickers. If a person needs a bumper sticker to make people realize that they are a christian, there is a problem. (As I ask my people; Does a pretty girl need to hang a sign around her neck saying that she is pretty?) Neither should any christian need to put a bumper sticker on his car to show what he is.
I have learned that middle class America is not interested in a knock on their door. They don't care if you are Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, the tax man or a Bible believer concerned for their souls. They don't want you there. What I have also learned is that the lowest class of Americans, the ones on welfare, food stamps, Social Security disability, and whatever else program is out there will give you the time of day. But! and only But! if you will be their friend. I have learned to make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness.
They are often dirty, needy, drug dependant, sexualy promiscuous and chronically in trouble. They don't know how to behave when you invite them for supper (something you should do before you invite them to church). They are not offended when you gently call them down for certain things as long as you are not looking down your nose at them. They enjoy playing games. They enjoy swapping stories. They enjoy you being their friend without pretensions.
Make the bible fascinating to them. Show them something that you have been trying to work out in the bible. Answer their bible questions. The problem with so many of you pastors out there is that your grip on the bible is so superficial that you have no idea how to make it fascinating.
More than anything else, let them see the miracle of your home and family. If your home and family isn't a miracle from God I'm not sure why you are in the ministry. If they are a miracle quit hiding them under a bushel. You say that your family has problems? Quit hiding that in shame. Do you have a son or a daughter who is in rebellion and has left the home? Share your hurt with these new friends. believe me, family betrayal is a hurt that they understand well.
The Black Creek Baptist Church fluxuates between 60 and 85 people in church on any given Sunday. On any given Sunday about one third to half of them came from such ranks of people. I have no more zealous people in my church. Whether you find them at home, in Dollar General or in church, they dress well and live right. They never miss church. Their homes are a joy to visit.
That didn't come from a quick one, two, three conversion. That came from years of me loving them and being their friend. It came from making them comfortable in church. It came from making them interested in the bible. It came from showing them how to stop the pain in their lives by changing one bad habit, or one evil lifestyle choice at a time and doing things the bible way. It came from them hearing the preaching of the word of God until they began to tremble at the law they spurned, till their guilty souls emploring turned to Calvary.
Families who needed me to put gas in their tanks 10 years ago, now work and pay tithes. Children who went to bed at night listening to drunken brawls now go to bed at night listening to the songs of Zion or to Patch the Pirate. In short, what we did here is to get those people to look at what they owed God. Then as stewards of God's word we showed them how to strike off their debt of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ.
I grieve for the pathetic preachers and pastors today who are out there flogging a dead horse. They rule over the ruin of what was once a great movement. There is a reason that our church website is called One soul at a time (www.onesoulatatime.net)