#010 = HELPING PASTORS GET A HEART FOR THEIR CITY
By Dave Thompson, Vice President, Ministries, Harvest Evangelism
If you ask my good friend, Pastor Oscar Castells,
"It includes the mayor and police chief, the public health director and the bishop. Iíve got bums and businessmen, murderers and millionaires, drug addicts and homosexuals. My congregation is the city, and I co-pastor it with my fellow colleagues from the other congregations in my city. You see, we only have one Church in the city, and it takes all of us working together to shepherd it."
In a conference setting, someone asked Pastor Castells where he got such a burdened heart for his city. His answer was simple, deep and revealing. "I didnít get a burden for my city until I got a burden for my brothers in the Lord. When the Lord finally got through to us pastors in the city about our indifference toward each other, He then proceeded to reveal to us that we didnít care about our city either! We were more interested in our own congregation and reputation than we were about city that Jesus died for!"
I donít know about you, but that is not the answer I was expecting to the question, "How do pastors get a heart for their city?" Nor do I think I like it! And hang on - I think it gets worse!
The sin of indifference is more devastating than murder. Murder says to its victim, "Youíre worth this bullet." Indifference denies him even that value. Murder kills the victim. Indifference brings death to the spirit of both the perpetrator and the victim. The opposite of indifference is caring. Having a heart for the city is all about caring. Caring says, "You can trust me. Iím here for you. We may be different, and we may disagree on some things, but I love you."
When the pastors of San Nicolas began to say these kinds of things to each other, the Lord not only gave them a burden for their city, but a vision to reach it. I watched as they went to the mayor and asked his forgiveness for having neglected their spiritual obligations of caring for him and about his needs. He was first dumbfounded, then deeply touched as they prayed for him. Prayer finished, he said to them, "You must come here more often. No one comes to bless us here like you did today...I want you to come back once a month to pray for me and for those that work in these offices!"
I watched as they visited every principal leader in their community. And I watched as the doors to the city began to open to them like never before - not because of religious position, but because of a humble posture of heart.
Here are the observations that I make.
1.†††††††† Until the pastors got a burden for each other, they had the wrong burden for their city.
2.†††††††† Until they began to trust each other, God did not trust them with a city. Indeed, their city was in jeopardy.
3.†††††††† When they humbled themselves under the "mighty hand of God," he "exalted them" at just the right time.
So, you want a heart for your city? Go love on a pastor or ministry leader in your city with whom you have had little contact - perhaps even ignored - perhaps even intentionally. Make it a regular habit, and get others of your colleagues to do the same. The grace of God will meet you all, and you all will meet your city.
John 13:3-35. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
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