Message Notes: Oct 17, 2023

“What’s Your Breakthrough Statement?” – Peter Haas

We all want miracles: But most of them happen “Slow then Suddenly.” One example can be seen on the Day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:1-2 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. SUDDENLY a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.”

They saw over 3000 people get saved. Yet everything that preceded this moment must have been tedious! Pastor Jesus died. Pastor Judas, the CFO makes allegations of corruption and then kills himself. Pastor Peter quits and goes back to Galilee to start fishing again. The church went from thousands to just a small prayer group.

Yet after this season of slowness, of “waiting” (Acts 1:9) God brought a “Sudden” (Acts 2:2). And we would be wise to observe this pattern in our own lives. God moves “slow then sudden.” Unfortunately, a lot of leaders never make it through the “slow” season to get to the sudden. Judas didn’t make it. And there were a lot of disciples who never hung around in the Upper Room.

So, how do we know if our hearts are set on the right things?  Here’s a test:  I call it the “Breakthrough Proposition.”

 “My ministry is one [fill in the blank] away from a breakthrough.”

What would YOU fill in the blank with? What do you pray for most? What do you worry about most? Many leaders tell me: “My ministry is one [Building/Staff/Millionare] away from a breakthrough.”

But the reason this matters: Your Proposition often Reveals your Pathology!

If your “Blank” isn’t filled with God Himself or something that GOD has given you direct control over (like your habits, skills, and personal character), then, it’s probably the WRONG focus for you. Don’t get me wrong: There’s no perfect answer for this (outside of God himself). And it’s ok to ask God for things. But today I’d like to suggest four things pastors SHOULD BE filling-in the blank with; I.e., four things that will give you a healthier focus in ministry.

(1). “My ministry is one tough conversation away from a breakthrough.”

The good news is that, there’s a lot of ways to have tough convos without people leaving the church. In fact, I wrote an entire blog on many of the requirements I have for my staff when they have these convos. And if you’re interested, click here

(2). “My Ministry is one Seat change or System away from a breakthrough.”

Sometimes, the leader is just in “the wrong seat on the bus.” They aren’t the right role, location, or position on the flow chart. But other times, it’s the “system” or methodology:

For example, at Substance: We have a teaching called “the Volunteer Cliffs.” It outlines the TOP 5 Reasons why Volunteers quit a ministry. So, whenever we have a ministry team that’s shrinking (or always struggling) then it’s usually one of five “cliffs” (problems). In fact, we have a diagnostic tool to help churches identify them! [HERE].

As another example, I can predict a churches’ evangelistic life-expectancy based on its age or governance. In my message, I quoted a study out of the book: “American Church in Crisis” by David Olson. And he proved that most American churches have a predictable twenty year evangelistic life-expectancy (which can be extended if you know how to do it!)

In fact, I’ve written entire (free) digital books on research like this that can help you be the “exception to the rule.” Happy Church Governance talks a lot about how church bylaws can predict church life-expectancy – not to mention joy!

But my point is, God has created predictable systems which govern many of these things. And if we acknowledge these principles, we can benefit from them – much like your physical body can benefit from healthy eating (See Happy Church Governance Here).

But why are we so afraid to take the risk of changing our seat or system?

Well, it’s a proven fact that humans tend to obsess over the fear of loss so much that they irrationally pass by great opportunities on a regular basis. Indeed, there are some brilliant psychology studies proving this. And how we can avoid it. (see my blog on “Prospect Theory”) and it will change the way you take risks as a leader!

But a 3rd Proposition we leaders need to consider:

(3). “My Ministry is one Intercessory Prayer Team away from a breakthrough”

 I believed in prayer before I planted; but, I naturally did it a LOT more AFTER planting. When we take big steps of faith, it forces us to exercise that faith on a new level. But it’s time we recruit teams of people simply to help us. I wonder how many breakthroughs we’re missing simply because we haven’t done the basics of what the Bible teaches: “Produce work through faith!” (1 Thess.1:3).

(4). “My Ministry is one Personal Character Change away from a breakthrough”

For most of us, God knows that, if he gave us more money, better buildings, or more staff we’d probably just squander it all and screw them up! He already knows what we need before we ask (Mt. 6:8), and will provide all we need out of his “glorious riches” (Php 4:19). When we experience delays, the problem is never God’s generosity; quite often, it’s our skills, our personal character, and our habits. Indeed, if God gave us what we were praying for, it would destroy us! Besides, our skills, habits, and personal character are the only things we can really control anyway.

 So, which of these four is he speaking to you about most?  

(1). “one tough conversation away from a breakthrough”

(2). “one System or Seat Change away from a breakthrough”

(3). “one Intercessory Prayer Team away from a breakthrough”

(4). “one Personal Change away from a breakthrough”

Because, here’s what happens if you DON’T deal with that one thing:  If we fail to get our focus right, then we experience what I call a “Breakdown Proposition”

“My Ministry is one [fill in the blank] away from a breakdown.”

When David sinned with Bathsheba he was supposed to be off to war. (2 Sam. 11.)  He was focused on the wrong thing. When Solomon sinned (in 1 Kings 10 11) it was because, once again, his focus was off!  And thus, he filled his soul “with horses and concubines” instead of the will of God.  And When Nebuchadnezzar sinned in Dan. 4:29, God gave him 12 months to deal with his issues before he lost his mind!  And I wonder how many of us are 12 mo’s away from our next big regret. I wonder how many of us have already lost our minds.

But Leaders: It doesn’t have to be this way! God has given us each other to “spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” (Heb.10:24)  Let’s help each other focus on grow-ability and let God worry about the growth! Let’s avoid our breakdowns so that God can send us our breakthrough – but only at the proper time!